KOSCIUSKO — Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Chris Rager has recently returned to work after serving a two-week unpaid suspension. Rager was one of four candidates who ran for the office of Kosciusko County Sheriff in 2018.
According to information received via a public records request, Rager was suspended by Sheriff Kyle Dukes on May 14 and returned to work on May 28.
The suspension came following an internal investigation into various issues involving Rager, including time off failure to report to work, improperly filed worker’s compensation claim, providing erroneous information pertaining to a crash report to the investigating officer, failure to notify the supervisor of the use of force and not completing the required report within 24 hours, failure to complete reports and/or supplemental reports for active cases, establishing a security detail without proper authority and/or permission and improper overtime form submission.
On the suspension notification document, Dukes noted that upon Rager’s return to work, his shift supervisor will work with him to “further coach and correct these concerns.” The suspension notification also stated, “These above-listed issues have been disruptive to the community, the sheriff’s office, to your shift and yourself. You are being afforded the opportunity to correct these issues and I expect you will conduct yourself in a professional and productive manner going forward.”
For the failure to report to work disciplinary action, documents stated that on Feb. 27, Rager failed to report to work his scheduled day from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Rager did not contact any supervisor for approval and this shift was scheduled as a shift minimum due to other deputies having previously approved time off. This conduct results in a violation of a rule outlined in the KCSO rules and regulations for merit officers.
In regards to improperly filing worker’s compensation claim, documents state that on April 17, Rager told Captain Travis Marsh that he had injured his lower back. On April 18, Rager told Marsh that he had filed worker’s compensation paperwork for an accident that occurred following a police pursuit on April 11. Rager did not notify anyone of the injuries until April 17, but the worker’s compensation paperwork states that he notified employers on April 14. Acting Sgt. Jim Smith advised that on April 11, he had talked with Rager about the pursuit and accident and Rager advised that he was not injured. Rager was questioned about working for his second job cutting down trees after the accident, but he denied that he had worked for them.
The failure to notify the supervisor of the use of force and not completing the required report within 24 hours disciplinary actions also stem from the April 11 police pursuit. Documents state that Rager used his police vehicle to ram the fleeing vehicle, resulting in damage to both vehicles. The pursuit was nearly terminated and was finally ended when Rager physically engaged the fleeing suspect and made an apprehension. There was no immediate indication that force had been used nor was there a report of force made until April 15. The accident report narrative stated that the suspect turned into Rager’s vehicle causing the damage, but in patrol video, Rager is heard saying he was, “going to take this motherf***** out.”
The establishing a security detail without proper authority and/or permission disciplinary action involved security detail. It was discovered that Rager had initiated an off-duty security detail with the Warsaw Elks Club. The sheriff nor the chief deputy had been asked permission nor advised that this detail was in place.
For the improper overtime form submission disciplinary action, Rager had submitted a form for three hours of overtime on March 30. There were no remarks on the form indicating what activities produced the overtime. When questioned about the reason for overtime, Rager responded that “he did not remember and to not worry about it, it was no big deal.” The overtime was approved, but the reasoning has yet to be established.
There were two other disciplinary action reports received cited conduct unbecoming of an officer. On Oct. 26, Rager responded to a mobile home fire to work the investigation as the on-call detective. After the investigation, the department received information with possible suspects and Rager was ordered to complete the report. In March, the victim of the arson asked why the suspect had not been interviewed. Upon further review, there were no supplement reports, interviews or any other documentation related to the case after Oct. 26. The other disciplinary action occurred after Rager responded to a burglary on March 9, and advised that the report would be sent to the prosecutor’s office for charges. Rager failed to send the report to the prosecutor. On April 10, a prosecutor advised that he had still not received the report and the victim had advised that Rager told him that charges would not be filed because it was a civil issue. The victim told the prosecutor that Rager stated the prosecutor had made the decision for the case to be considered civil. The prosecutor had not spoken to Rager and it was noted in the disciplinary report that Rager lied to the victim..
Rager has been in law enforcement since 1998, beginning his career with the North Webster Police Department. In 2000 he joined the sheriff’s department and served as the first school resource officer for Wawasee Community School Corp. He also served as the sheriff’s department DARE officer for 10 years.