Our View: Sheriff should release report

The McHenry County Sheriff’s Office has an ongoing fight with a local Internet journalist over a report from an internal sheriff’s office investigation that the journalist and the Illinois attorney general say should be released.

While the Northwest Herald has seen the documents and knows the battle is much ado about nothing, on principle we agree with the Illinois attorney general and First Electric Newspaper Publisher Peter Gonigam that the sheriff’s office should release the report.

The report details an internal investigation after explosive allegations from a sheriff’s office sergeant who alleged that Undersheriff Andrew Zinke tipped a Crystal Lake business owner about a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency probe into the shipment of thousands of pounds of marijuana and jeopardized the investigation.

Sometimes where there’s smoke, there’s fire, but not in this case. No flames. No embers. Just enough smoke for Zinke’s political opponents to wave around.

McHenry County State’s Attorney Lou Bianchi, who publicly supports Zinke’s 2014 Republican primary opponent Bill Prim for sheriff, looked into the matter and found no evidence of a crime. DEA representatives have not said that Zinke compromised anything.

Sheriff Keith Nygren’s office conducted its own internal investigation, and, unsurprisingly, found that Zinke did nothing wrong. The report from that investigation is what Gonigam seeks, dating back to at least June when he filed a lawsuit against the office.

Zinke opponents are theorizing that this internal report will be damning for Zinke. In the absence of public records, conspiracy theorists are able to cling to their beliefs.

Continuing to fight over the release of the report is a waste of the court’s time and of taxpayer money. The sheriff’s office should heed the Illinois attorney general’s advice and release the report.