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Sheriff's staff use blog to mock Heenes after balloon retrieval

LARIMER COUNTY - The Heenes have retrieved from the Larimer County Sheriff's Office the balloon that captured the world's attention on a fall afternoon last year. Slideshow: Balloon floats across Northern Colorado

blog of Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer Eloise Campanella, who poked fun at the couple she said has "no idea how they turned my life (indeed the lives of many of us) upside down with their antics." She wrote: "(Richard Heene) is now sporting a beard and moustache. (Mayumi Heene) is not." The balloon was returned to the Heenes about seven months after the couple first reported that their 6-year-old son Falcon was aboard the balloon as it floated through the skies of Northern Colorado. Both Richard and Mayumi Heene have completed a 30-day jail sentence after orchestrating the hoax that resulted in a search for Falcon. In her blog, Campanella details how the Heenes measured the balloon seized by deputies who recovered it from a field near Denver International Airport. "Here comes the good part. Are you ready? It's a doozie," Campanella wrote. "Sheriff's Office personnel had to help him lay out the balloon. He said he wanted to measure it to make sure it was HIS balloon ... as opposed to all the other silver flying saucer-type devices we have in evidence. Or did he think someone here would have taken the time to build a reasonable facsimile to switch with his and then sell on E-bay?" When contacted by the Coloradoan, Richard Heene said he measured the balloon because he and investigators have disagreed about its size. Campanella also took photos of the Heenes retrieving and measuring the balloon, which Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden said will be used by his office as it talks about the case at the FBI Academy and at six conferences of law enforcement personnel, public information officers and emergency managers. The Sheriff's Office provided the photos to the Coloradoan under the Criminal Justice Open Records Act. Heene said he'd not read Campanella's blog but was told by friends about her remarks. "She told us the photos were not for the press; it's for the Sheriff's Office and their record. But lo and behold, they go and make a big deal out of it," Heene said of the blog posting. He added: "I've been trying to say leave it alone, leave it alone. These guys are trying to make me look like a fool." He also said he just wants the media and sheriff to leave him alone. "I would think on their end, this is over," he said of the Sheriff's Office. "I'm sure the sheriff is just laughing his a- off all the way to his next election." Alderden, who is term limited, said Campanella's blog, dubbed the Bull Sheet, makes light of some situations and bizarre behavior encountered at the jail and by deputies on patrol. The blog is posted on the sheriff's Web site, which is run independently from the Larimer County site so the office can express opinions more freely. "We generally have not identified the individuals who engage in foolish behavior, but the Heenes are a special case," Alderden said in an e-mail to the Coloradoan. "They brought all this attention on themselves and continue to act out with members of our department. We found the fact that Richard wanted to measure the balloon to ensure it was his amusing and Eloise shared that. Normally, Eloise doesn't put in names, but who else would we be releasing a silver saucer-shaped balloon to?" Dan Carlson, who works at the Center for Law Enforcement Ethics in Plano, Texas, said there are questions in law enforcement about the proper role of free speech made on official Web sites. He said in general, law enforcement should pay a certain level of respect to all criminals. "When you hold someone up to ridicule, I guess an objective reader would wonder what is the point of that from law enforcement," Carlson said. "Is that what a public information officer's capacity is? To hold the public up to the light and ridicule?" Alderden said Campanella's blog is a way for the office to communicate what really goes on in law enforcement. "Most citizens have a very distorted view of law enforcement from (television) and the media," he said. "We share both the good and the bad and try to bring the readers behind the scenes." Written by Nate Taylor, Fort Collins Coloradoan. />

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