Head of regional jail in Devils Lake fired

DEVILS LAKE (AP) – The operations administrator of the regional jail in Devils Lake has been fired after months of controversy.

The Lake Region Law Enforcement Center board of directors voted 5-3 on Wednesday to fire Denny Deegan after problems that have included staff shortages leading to an inability to house juvenile offenders, resignations and criminal charges filed against a male officer who allegedly had sexual contact with a female inmate.

“I believe it will be a turning point,” said board member Mark Olson, who made the motion to fire Deegan. “I believe we’re going to go forward now and get the mess straightened out.”

Deegan’s husband, Paul, told WDAZ-TV that he thinks his wife was unfairly blamed for the problems at the facility that handles prisoners for Devils Lake and five area counties.

“The word ‘witch-hunt’ comes to mind,” he said.

Paul Deegan said his wife was dealing with medical issues and was not available for comment.

Denny Deegan survived a termination vote earlier this summer, but the Ramsey County Commission last week removed Bill Mertens as one of its two representatives on the board and replaced him with Ed Brown, according to the Devils Lake Journal. Mertens had earlier supported Deegan. Brown voted to remove her.

“We need somebody on board that’s going to be there and take care of things,” Brown told KZZY radio.

Ramsey County Sheriff Steve Nelson will be in charge of the center until a new operations administrator is hired. The facility also has a separate finance administrator.