In Wagner, a sense Of betrayal - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

In Wagner, a sense of betrayal

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 There is growing concern and confusion in Wagner involving what is believed to be widespread meth use and how local police are responding.

 Much of that concern is centered around Wagner Police Chief Jim Chaney, who has been charged with attempting to cover up the meth use of his own girlfriend.

 Many in town say Chaney's actions are part of a larger problem: of people ignore and covering up what is happening instead of addressing it head on.

 The tensions in Wagner are growing, fueled by a feeling of betrayal: wondering why one of the key people in the war on meth....was covering up his girlfriend's meth use.

 "What about his supervisors? What about the people who pay his check? What about those people? Don't they care? Don't they know?" Lourdes Zephier tells us, Wagner Police Chief Jim Chaney and others needs to be held accountable for what she says is an outrage: that at a time when she says meth is prevalent in this community, the community's chief law enforcement official tried to skirt drug laws instead of enforce them...and covered up his girlfriend's meth use instead of trying to get her some help.

 "It's bad. It's an epidemic." Frances Zephier talked to us in the open, on main street in Wagner, saying meth use is so common, no one thinks twice about discussing it on the street.
 She believes Chief Chaney shirked his responsibility to the community and to his girlfriend. "I think when he knew she was doing drugs, he is responsible and should have gotten her help. He should have gotten her help."

 And it's while we were talking with Frances about Chief Chaney and his girlfriend, Charline Cournoyer, that Charline's mother Kathy pulled up and became visibly upset that Frances was talking with us about the case. "You assume a lot. You don't around...you don't know. You just assume." But even Kathy told us, that meth took hold here years ago and hasn't let go and she doesn't know if it ever will. "Go around and look: people's faces hanging off, mouth way off to the side. You'll know, you'll see it."

 Kathy won't talk to us about her daughter's relationship with Chief Chaney, but does say she knows Charline has a meth problem and wants to get her help, but says she can not afford treatment costs.
 Then, almost in despair, Kathy told us this; "Where do you go to get help around here? You don't. You can't."

 Uncomfortably in the middle is the Wagner Police Department. With their chief charged with covering up drug related activity, they know their moves and motives are now being questioned: but one Wagner officer, Tim Simonson, says he wants people to know, the police department is trying to deal with this in a real manner. "We're gonna work at it. I don't know if we'll ever truly fix the problem but we're sure gonna try."

 We asked Officer Simonson to give us an update on the investigation involving Chief Chaney. He declined, saying he could not discuss the issue with us because it is a personnel matter.

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