Bingham County Prosecutor Paul Rogers has issued the following statement on the situation surrounding charges involving Bingham County Sheriff Craig Rowland:
"Bingham County is my home. I have lived here my entire life. I love this community and what it has always offered. It is my duty and obligation to protect this county and the citizens that live here. I have been mentored by the best leaders that have forged the mantra in me to “do the right thing” no matter how difficult it may be.
"In the recent days Bingham County has made headlines which have placed Bingham County in a negative light. I have read the affidavit of probable cause regarding the charges filed against Sheriff Craig Rowland and the charging complaint and have been disheartened and surprised by the allegations contained within each. In the last few days, since the news broke, the County has received an overwhelming number of phone calls with inquiries that I never expected to have to answer.
"Many of the questions that are being asked are about resignation and what elected officials can do about it. Fortunately Idaho Code § 59-901 provides guidance of nine (9) individual ways in which a vacancy may occur. The Idaho Code provides no authority to one elected official to force another elected official out of office.
"Some of the questions and concerns have been focused on when an elected official is charged with a crime why does the county not restrict that charged elected official from attending work as normal. The Idaho Code does not provide any avenue in which one elected office may control the attendance or leave of a separate elected office. The manner in which an elected office manages leave and attendance is within the control of those individual offices.
"Last, many questions that are being raised is where does the Bingham County Prosecutor’s Office stand as a reaction to the alleged-hurtful statements in the affidavit and the news release. The statements in the affidavit of probable cause that were attributed to Craig Rowland have caused great discourse in the community. There have been many comments suggesting Bingham County as a whole operates with the same mindset as those alleged comments portrayed in the affidavit and news articles. I have been with the Bingham County Prosecutor’s Office for nine (9) years, and in my entire time here I have worked with the best officers both in the county and in the city (including Shelley Police) from top to bottom. Never once have I reviewed a case and believed that any of our officers work with a racial intent. In fact, my experience is that all of our local law enforcement puts forth significant effort to see each case on its face, record facts, collect evidence and complete reports without any preconceived judgment attached. Our law enforcement cares greatly about protecting the community and just over the last few years, many of our officers have put their life on the line for the citizens of Bingham.
"Additionally, I have had the opportunity to work directly with the Shoshone-Bannock Tribal Court on some of our highest profile cases and the judges, attorneys and officers have always given us great support and aid whenever we have requested. I have witnessed only positive interactions and I would hope to continue that trend and build upon it.
"I am in a very unique position in which I view the behind the scenes on a daily basis. I believe whole-heartedly that the citizens of our county are receiving some of the highest quality law enforcement treatment and care for the safety of our community.
"Right now Bingham County and our law enforcement and elected officials, both county and city, are being attacked based on what are merely allegations at this stage. At some point the damage to the Sheriff’s Office becomes irreparable regardless of the outcome of the newly-filed case. To this end I would hope that our current Sheriff would again consider resignation as an option to allow Bingham County to begin the healing process and allow the officers and the County to continue on safely and effectively.
"In return, the community must remember, that if an elected official chooses to resign, resignation has no implication of admission to guilt. The charges filed are a separate and personal matter and have nothing to do with the actions of Bingham County. Those personal matters deserve an opportunity to be heard in court.
"The judicial system is a beautiful and complex process. It provides each of us with the presumption of innocence and allows us to be tried upon the evidence and our peers provide the judgment of character and truth. As a community we must remember that all of those charged with a crime are innocent until proven guilty, being in an elected position does not change that burden for anyone. We cannot pass judgment without justice. It is not my place or in my authority, nor is it the place of any elected official, to force resignation of someone that has not been allowed to be heard."