In a November 28 press release, Tompkins County Sheriff Derek Osborne announced that a Tompkins County Sheriff Deputy has been fired for serious misconduct while on duty.
According to the press release, the Tompkins County Sheriff's Office became aware of a complaint from a community member that was made to a law enforcement agency in Cortland County on November 9, 2022.
It was determined that the subject of the complaint was a Tompkins County Sheriff's Deputy identified as Kristofer O’Rourke. After gathering further information that same day, it was determined to be a serious misconduct complaint and the deputy was immediately placed on administrative leave as outlined in the collective bargaining agreement.
According to Sheriff Osborne, an investigation was conducted by Undersheriff Olin and the complaint was ultimately determined to be sustained. “Our investigation uncovered inappropriate verbal communication of a sexual nature by O’Rourke to a member of the public while he was on-duty,” said Osborne. On November 21, O'Rourke was terminated from his position due to improper conduct as defined in 9 NYCRR 6056.2(h)(1).
Sheriff Osborne said, “The findings of the investigation and the termination for cause was immediately reported to the Division of Criminal Justice Services so O’Rourke’s police officer certification would be permanently invalidated preventing him from working for another law enforcement agency in the future.”
Osborne continued saying, “The Tompkins County District Attorney was also consulted by my Office, and it was determined that the conduct did not rise to the level of a criminal charge. The Sheriff’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office is currently reviewing other cases O’Rourke was involved in during his time at the Sheriff’s Office.”
On November 22, the New York State Police from the Livingston County area notified the Tompkins County Sheriff's Office that they had been conducting a criminal investigation of O'Rourke since August 2022 regarding a complaint they received while he was employed at the Geneseo Police Department in Livingston County, NY.
On November 28, 2022 the New York State Police reportedly charged O'Rourke with Criminal Sex Act in the Third Degree, a Class E Felony and Official Misconduct, a Class A Misdemeanor and returned him to Livingston County for arraignment.
Sheriff Osborne said that the Sheriff’s Office needed to delay notifying the public until the New York State Police could complete their investigation and charge O’Rourke.
According to Osborne, “O'Rourke was hired by the Tompkins County Sheriff's Office on August 8, 2022. He was a lateral transfer candidate from Geneseo Police Department in Livingston County. No disciplinary or performance concerns were reported during his background investigation.”
The background investigation process of the Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office consists of records checks with all law enforcement agencies that the applicant may have contact with, an investigatory interview, associate interviews, a polygraph examination, a psychological test and a professional psychiatric interview all of which led to nothing indicative of this sort of behavior.
During O’Rourke’s 3-month stint with the Tompkins County Sheriffs Department, he was directly supervised by a Field Training Officer from 08/08/22 through 09/24/22, leaving him on solo patrol from only 09/25/22-11/08/22.
The Tompkins County Sheriff's Office would like to thank the community member that came forward so that we could take swift and decisive disciplinary action. The Tompkins County Sheriff's Office has responded by saying that they are “dedicated to providing the highest quality law enforcement services to both residents and visitors of Tompkins County.
Additionally, Sheriff Osborne has said “I would like to apologize to the residents of Tompkins County, that despite our best efforts at conducting thorough background investigations of applicants, for having one slip through the cracks and potentially put people in our community at risk.” He continued saying, “We would also like to thank the New York State Police for their coordination with our Office in relation to their investigation and subsequent arrest of O’Rourke.”
Osborne has also said that he asks that anyone who may have had an improper interaction with O’Rourke, regardless of the jurisdiction in which it occurred, to please contact the New York State Police and report such at (585)-390-4100, as the New York State Police will be accepting and consolidating any additional allegations.
“As Sheriff, I would ask the Governor and Attorney General to provide safeguards to better protect prior employers from potential liability from disclosing information of a concerning nature to agencies conducting background investigations on those applying for positions in the public safety field,” said Osborne.