EDITOR’S NOTE: Jarrod Fry is a personal friend, the son of my longtime friend and former editor of the Muskogee newspaper, Kristi Fry. Our personal friendship did not influence this story.
In October, MuskogeeNOW.com reported a story that eventually led to the departure of Romon Jones, the correctional chief at Jess Dunn Correctional Facility in Taft. The story repeated allegations that Jones let inmates run wild and endangered guards and area residents with his carelessness toward inmates.
Yesterday, Jarrod Fry of Muskogee, a sergeant at the prison and the original whistleblower in the case, sent a letter to state legislators alleging that the prison is now retaliating against him for bringing the situation to light.
Fry, who works at night and cares for his daughter and his 100 percent disabled special-needs brother during the day, says he is being accused of bullying another employee for a humorous post he made on Facebook earlier this month. In the post, a parody of the recent “10-year challenge” on the site where members posted photos of themselves from 10 years ago and today to compare, Fry posted a photo of a friend and fellow Jess Dunn employee as his 10-year-old photo. Officials at the prison told him that was “bullying.”
The employee whose photo was posted thought the post was funny and told officers he didn’t feel bullied by the post, which was done without any mention of Jess Dunn or the fact that the two men even worked together. The officials at the prison did not seem to be swayed by the fact that the man wasn’t offended by the post.
The investigation at the prison is still ongoing, according to Fry. Here is the full text of the letter he sent to state legislators:
Hello, my name is Jarrod Fry. CSO IV Sgt. at Jess Dunn in Taft employee # 321424. I need help. Everyone at Jess Dunn knows I’m the person who wrote the letter concerning our former chief Jones, and the issues at our prison. I’m the one who contacted every single Representative and Senator as well as multiple media outlets. Everything has been much better since chief Jones has been gone, mind you, he never did anything to me. I did what I did to stick up for my fellow CO’s when they felt they couldn’t, and the LT’s couldn’t get things better.
Recently I got called to chief Cox’s office. I was told I was being accused of bullying a fellow officer named Rife. I was told this came down from OKC and that Warden Farris was asked to handle the investigation. At the same time I was told chief Cox had already spoken with Rife and he stated he didn’t file anything and that he has zero issues with me and that we are friends. Chief Cox also stated our Lt. stated the exact same thing. The picture attached is what was used to say I was bullying a fellow CO. Rife thought it was funny. There’s no bullying going on between myself or anyone. I literally get along well with everyone. I’m the one to get rid of bullies. At that time, after we’ve all spoken to Chief Cox, we’re told we have to be separated and both moved to other shifts. Everyone knows I take care of my daughter during the day and my 100% disabled brother, which moving shifts kills me.
I informed chief Cox that I had read OP-110215 about bullying and that nothing I’ve done fits. However, what ODOC is doing to me falls under #4 (power bullying) intruding or invading into a employees personal life. I have nothing DOC on my page. I was not representing DOC, I was also on my own time. They are fully in violation of this, especially after Rife made it clear that this was basically stupid.
I told Chief Cox that I felt this was retaliation. Then I explained that I was the reason he was here. That I wrote the letter, that ended a few days ago with chief Jones walking papers. Shortly after Jones is fired this happens. Chief Cox then stated he couldn’t be certain that this hadn’t came from upstairs. Meaning the warden. You see the warden made the mistake of saying in a Lt’s meeting right after I sent the letter, that he was going to fire whoever wrote that letter(he knows it was me now). I don’t need to remind you that is completely against policy, and federal whistleblower laws.
I really felt this was off or wierd. After all parties stated it was nothing. I contacted agent Shane, as he asked me to request help internally before making this another media circus. Channel 6, channel 8 and Muskogee Now all want an update to the story. I asked Shane if I had any complaints in OKC as chief Cox stated. Shane told me no. Therefore Chief Cox lied to me. The picture and a statement of accusing me of bullying wasn’t sent to OKC as he stated. I asked Shane to intervene in this investigation, but he said he’d have to be assigned.
This isn’t only me, Rife was moved shifts for no reason, and Lt. Balthis is being screwed with over a emoji posted on my picture.
Everyone on my shift was also questioned, with them stating I have zero issues with anyone. Which I don’t. Yet the investigation that supposedly came from OKC is still ongoing.
Someone is really stupid. I take up for my co-workers not bully them. I was bullied as a child, it’s not ok. I won’t stand for this much longer. Please help me before I have to file suit against DOC for retaliation and create another media frenzy over my mistreatment for trying to correct a bad situation. I’m begging for help. I don’t want to have to go that route.