By CJ Baker, Powell Tribune
Less than a week after being arrested on allegations that he drove his work truck while drunk, Jack Tatum is out as Park County’s director of Homeland Security.
Tatum’s last day on the job was Friday, said Park County Sheriff Scott Steward, who oversees the county’s Homeland Security office. Tatum had served as director since June 2019 and had previously received praise from the sheriff and others for his work in the role.
However, on the night of Oct. 24, a citizen reported that a Park County Homeland Security truck was swerving all over U.S. Highway 20/26 west of Casper. Trooper Eric Sandstead of the Wyoming Highway Patrol found Tatum at the wheel and an open bottle of Smirnoff vodka near the driver’s seat. Tatum reportedly failed sobriety tests and two breath tests administered about an hour after the traffic stop pegged the 33-year-old’s blood alcohol content at 0.272% and 0.267%. That’s more than three times the 0.08% legal limit for driving.
Tatum was unwilling to follow directions as he was arrested, Trooper Sandstead wrote in charging documents, and he was taken to the Natrona County Detention Center by a deputy. Tatum pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of driving while under the influence of alcohol in Natrona County Circuit Court on Oct. 25 and was released on bond pending further proceedings. He was subsequently suspended from his job.
“Once we found out [about the arrest], he was immediately put on administrative leave and then we had to deal with it,” Steward said Monday.
The sheriff said he couldn’t comment on what personnel action was taken, but noted that Tatum has a right to due process and a fair trial in his criminal case.
“We wish him the best,” Steward said.
At the time of his arrest outside Casper, Tatum had been enrolled at the Wyoming Law Enforcement Academy in Douglas, where he was training to become certified as a peace officer; Steward had hoped the certification would enhance the sheriff’s office’s capabilities, but the county will now need to find a replacement. Tatum was earning an annual salary of $54,891.20, according to the Park County Clerk’s Office.