Deputy Demoted After Mishandling Call About Missing Teen - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Deputy Demoted After Mishandling Call About Missing Teen

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Richland County Sheriff Larry Leshovsky tells Valley News Live a deputy has been demoted in relation to a missing person call earlier this month. Abercrombie, North Dakota, teen Abbie Alt was found in a ditch nearly a day after she was first reported missing.

Leshovsky says their office received complaints after a delay in starting a search for the 15-year-old. The Sheriff says Jerry Arneson took the initial call and broke a number of policies, including not calling a supervisor right away and delaying a search.

In the Sheriff's words, Arneson "used poor judgement".

Once the information was brought to a Sergeant's attention, there was an immediate response, which activated the code red system and a search was organized with the fire department and community members.

Alt was found lying in a ditch outside of town nearly 18 hours after she went missing.  She has since been released from the hospital. Jerry Arneson has been with the department for 14 years. He chose to resign his position and was demoted to a corrections officer.

The Sheriff is now requiring dispatchers to call the on-duty supervisor right away if they receive a call of a missing person.


A 15-year-old girl was LifeFlighted to a Fargo hospital after being found in a ditch Sunday.

Search crews found Abby Alt about 3/4 of a mile north of Abercrombie, North Dakota, on a township road.  She was lying by a culvert and needed medical attention because she was not dressed appropriately for the weather conditions.

Approximately 20 volunteers from the Abercrombie Fire Department, eight ATVs, and members of the Richland County Sheriff's Office conducted the search that found Alt.

According to the Richland County Sheriff's Office, Alt had last been seen in Abercrombie about 6:30 Saturday night.  Her condition is unknown at this time.
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