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Dustin Hald, who left Columbia County Sheriff's Office amid investigation, says he will retire

It's been less than a month since Dustin Hald left the Columbia County Sheriff's Office, but the former sheriff's sergeant says the circumstances that led to his exit have been present for a long time.

Hald submitted notice of his retirement on Feb. 1, effective immediately.

He had worked for the Sheriff's Office for nearly 20 years. COLUMBIA COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE PHOTO - Hald

Hald's notice was considered an immediate resignation by county officials, though Hald says, legally, it will be processed as a retirement.

Hald was the subject of an internal investigation when he retired, and was on paid leave at the time.

He declined to go into detail of the circumstances surrounding his exit, but said he was not being investigated for wrongdoing of any kind, rather, "performance issues."

"I was investigated for performance issues," Hald said. "I was not asked to resign. I was not asked to leave."

Hald, 42, said he left on his own volition, hinting at a less than desirable work environment within the Sheriff's Office.

"There's a lot of really great employees there," Hald noted. "But there's also been a lot of senior deputies that have not made it under [Sheriff] Dickerson. There were some things happening that are probably still happening."

Hald said he never expected to leave his job this way.

"I had a remarkable record, remarkable career. I thought I'd work here for several more years," Hald said.

He formerly served as a lieutenant at CCSO. He was later given the title of sergeant during what Sheriff Jeff Dickerson referred to as a "restructuring" of staff within his office.

Hald isn't the only CCSO employee to be investigated for what the sheriff called "policy violations."

In 2016, the department's former undersheriff, Andy Moyer, who served as second-in-command to the sheriff, was investigated and reassigned the rank of sergeant as a disciplinary measure. The nature of the investigation was never made public.

For now, Hald says he still lives in Columbia County and still intends to be an active member of the community.

"I really just want to move on," Hald said. "I'm still a community member here."

Dickerson declined to comment on the nature of Hald's investigation.

"I wish him the best in his future endeavors," the sheriff stated via email. "With his exit from the organization, any internal investigations that were occurring came to an end, and we are continuing to move forward with the mission we have to conserve the peace in our County."

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