Report your sheriff

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Wthr(tv)'s hidden camera report showing Marion County Sheriff Jack Cottey drinking and driving during working hours brought the station a considerable buzz during the early days of sweeps. Sheriff Cottry said he was not drunk, nor on duty while drinking, and called the story poor journalism. News director Jacques Natz said the station received hundreds of messages, mostly supporting the story, and the Indianapolis Star reported receiving several hundred more, running about 50-50.

Natz said the station had received numerous tips regarding the sheriff's drinking and followed him for 15 days. On six of those, Cottey drank and drove his official vehicle, according to the station. About 20 staffers were involved in the story, in which the sheriff was observed and taped at several locations.

Natz said it was only the third time the station has used hidden cameras in his four years there. "We're not experts in inebriation," said Natz, but the station was prepared to call police if Cottey appeared to be driving dangerously after drinking, but he did not.

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