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Sheriff Asks County for More Help

March 8, 2019
By: Dwayne Page

The workload of the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department is on the rise and to keep up with it Sheriff Patrick Ray is asking the county for more help.

During a budget committee meeting of the county commission Wednesday night, Sheriff Ray asked that funds be included in next year’s budget (2019-20) for five new positions including one extra court officer, two extra shift supervisor positions for the sheriff’s department operation, and two extra shift supervisors for the jail.

The budget committee took no action. It is just beginning making preparations for the 2019-20 budget

“In the last few years, our call volume has increased,” said Sheriff Ray.

“As far as deputies go, in 2018, DeKalb County Sheriff Department deputies answered 7,718 calls not counting the 1,000’s of civil and arrest papers they have served. That averages out to 643.17 calls per month or 21.15 calls per day. That also averages out to 643.17 calls per deputy through out the year,” he continued.

“We have two patrol sergeants on a shift seven days a week. Their shifts are from 10:00 a.m. until 10:15 p.m. This means there are no supervisors with the deputies for 12 hours. I do not know of any law enforcement agency around us that does not have 24 hours of supervision for their officers that are on duty,” said Sheriff Ray.

“We have the same problem in the jail as we do with our patrol deputies. There are two jail sergeants on a shift seven days a week. Their shifts are from 10:00 a.m. until 10:15 p.m. This means there are no supervisors with the correctional officers for 12 hours and many times split second decisions need to be made about inmates that are being housed in the Jail. Again, I do not know of any Jail around us that does not have 24 hours of supervision for their officers that are on duty,” Sheriff Ray continued.

“Now as far as court officers go, we are having two to three courts throughout the week on the same day. We are having to pay our three detectives to work court instead of investigating cases. We are also having to pay overtime for extra help,” said Sheriff Ray.

The proposed new shift supervisors would be classified as patrol corporals and jail corporals and included in the sheriff’s departments six tier wage scale for employees. As adopted in February, 2018 all sheriff’s department staff are paid according to their tier level on the scale and when the state gives the sheriff a pay raise, the county matches the same percentage increase (2.64%) for all sheriff’s department staff.

Dennis Slager, Chairman of the County Budget Committee, said he has concerns with sheriff’s department employee pay increases being tied to the sheriff’s raises and was unaware that the previous county commission had voted to do that because the minutes from that February meeting do not specifically mention it. Slager said he is concerned that giving raises in this manner not only impacts the tier system but isn’t fair to other county employees.

The sheriff’s proposal includes $273,025 in new money as follows:

*$159,547 to add two new patrol corporals and one new court officer and it includes the 2.64% increase in steps and step tier raises for each sheriff’s department employee.

*$99,478 to add two new jail corporals and it includes the 2.64% increase in steps and step tier raises for each jail employee

* $10,000 to cover holiday pay and extra overtime for 2 new jail corporals, 2 new patrol corporals, and 1 new court officer.

*$4,000 for In-service training. “ I am asking for $4,000 extra and I’ll spend $8,000.00 from my current budget to send the 2 new patrol corporals and 1 new court officer to the 10 week Police Academy and the specialized training for the court officer”, said Sheriff Ray.

“I have an obligation to protect everyone who lives, works, or passes through our county and to run a properly staffed department. I also have an obligation to the tax payers to run an efficient and affordable sheriff’s department and Jail. This budget request is a bare bones budget request. I am afraid if we do not have the proper supervision of all employees and the man power needed to run the department properly, that it can one day open us up to legal obligations that will cost way more than what I have requested. I would ask the budget committee to approve my request for the 2019-2020 budget year,” said Sheriff Ray.

The sheriff gave a detailed explanation to the budget committee for making his request in a prepared statement as follows:

“This budget request has our 2019-2020 pay scale with some extra positions in it.

In the last 12 years since I have been sheriff, this is what has happened as far as employees go:

Upon taking office in 2006, I cut one position at the sheriff’s department at the request of former County Mayor Mike Foster and the county commission at that time.

In 2006, the former sheriff had a jail administrator position that I did not replace. In the last 2 years, I have busted that extra money up to make 2 jail sergeant positions.

In 2007 or 2008, the county commission gave me 1 correctional officer position and 1 deputy position with the understanding I would house a few state inmates to try to offset the costs. We are still trying to do that at this time.

In 2010, the state law was enforced as to how sheriff’s across the state worked court. The state law said that any court officer had to be a certified full time law enforcement officer with extra training hours in courtroom security. At this time, I had 4 part-time non certified court officers to work court. I gave up my part-time positions and was allowed to hire 4 full time certified court officers. Each court is required to have 2 court officers present while court is in session.

In 2013, after mass school shootings across our country, the county commission and school board at that time made an agreement to hire 4 extra school resource officers. The county would pay for 2 and the school board would pay for 2. The county was already at that time paying for an SRO at the high school. These officers only work at the school and they also work all school events such as ballgames (which include soccer, football, baseball, softball, and basketball), the prom, parent teacher conferences and such. One of the SRO’s also teaches 2 ten week courses of DARE to the 5th grade students at DeKalb West and Northside Elementary Schools.

A few years ago, I gave up one detective position and a court officer position to place 2 more deputies on the road to cover calls. At the present time there are only 3 detectives and 3 court officers. This was done due to the call volume that we had at that time. These 2 positions have never been replaced.

Here is what we came up with. We looked at having sergeant on all shifts for the road patrol deputies and also for the correctional officers. We looked at the increases in our (budget) line items for our tier increases and also the difference in the tier jumps for our employees. That total we thought might be too much for the county commission to approve. So we created a new position for corporals for the road patrol and the correctional officers. In the sheriff’s budget with the patrol only, it doesn’t save much money but in the jail it saves a lot. In total, just a little over $17,000.

We have also tried to save money by NOT asking for a full supervisor paid position. Meaning, we have moved around some of the current deputies and correctional officers’ pay to adjust to the supervisor positions so there will be a deduction in the amount we would ask for. For example, it would cost less to move a tier 4 officer to the corporal position than ask for the total tier pay for the corporal position.

This is how we came up with the corporal positions tier pay.

In the deputy’s corporal positions, we took the sergeant pay and subtracted the deputy pay on each tier and divided it in half. We then added that amount to each deputy tier.

We did the same with the corrections tiers to the deputy tiers to create the jail corporals’ tiers.

Let’s talk about each one of these

DEPUTIES:
We have lost 3 deputies from January, 1 2018 to date.

We can’t put new hires who are non-certified officers on the road by themselves.

We have a patrol sergeant on call 24 hours a day while his shift is working and they also work a shift themselves. They receive no on-call pay.

This will provide more backup for officers who are on dangerous calls.

This will provide quicker response times for all calls.

This also allows a deputy to take a vacation without costing overtime for another deputy to fill in for him.

This will also allow time for each officers’ training without costing overtime.

This will provide 4 ways of coverage for the county N S E W.

This will also keep from tying up detectives so they can work on cases that have been assigned to them.

This will provide 2 deputies for calls in the Austin Bottom area and there will also be 2 officers on this side to take calls.

This will help with extra Officers who are needed for traffic control at wrecks and bad crime scenes where we are required to protect scenes. Some of these scenes are at night and we have to wait until daylight to process them.

Right now, if 1 deputy quits and a deputy has a day off planned or is out sick, we are in trouble. We have to pay overtime to have someone to work.

With these extra positions, I will be asking for $4,000 more dollars in training for sending one of these new officers to the academy.

I will use $8,000 of my current training budget to send the other 3 officers requested. This would also allow for on the job training for our new deputies instead of putting them out on the road with no experience. They could ride with experienced officers and learn about handling calls and filling out the many different reports that we are required to do.

With these extra officers, they can also provide assistance to the court officers in doing mental transports and doing inmate transports for court. This would be a savings in overtime. This would also reduce fatigue on patrol deputies and court officers

COURT OFFICER:
There is always a court officer on call for transports. Presently, a court officer is on call every 2 weeks out of the month without any on-call pay. They also work their assigned court shift.

They take mental transports to Nashville, Knoxville, Chattanooga and Memphis. I am required to provide transport for all people who have been committed by a doctor to a mental institution. We have an average of 6 transports a week. Last Tuesday, we had 2 courts going on and 3 mental transports, 2 to Chattanooga and 1 to Nashville, at the same time.

I am charged with the security of the courtrooms. This will allow an extra court officer to assist us when we have multiple courts that require 2 officer’s per courtroom.

We are also required to have an officer to scan everyone who enters the courtrooms.

The court officers are responsible for all transports of all county inmates to the jail for court. We can have up to 10 transports for every court.

This will help with transporting inmates back and forth from the jail to the courthouse.
Out of 90 inmates in jail, we had 47 inmates who went to court on one court day last week.

CORRECTIONS:

We have lost 9 employees since April of 2018.

We only have 12 hours of supervision on all shifts for the correctional officers.

We have only 4 correctional officers on each shift. One of those is a female who takes care of the female inmates.

The female is assigned to the front desk. She has to watch the front office for people who are coming into the jail with questions or concerns, watch the 32 monitors in the cell area, check for warrants for not only our officers, but the Smithville Police Department, Alexandria Police Department, and sometimes the Tennessee Highway Patrol, and any county or city agency who calls for a warrants check on someone. She also has to monitor the new alarm system for the courthouse.

We have a jail sergeant on-call 24 hours a day while their shift is working and they also work a shift themselves. They receive no on-call pay.

Correctional officers are responsible for the security of the cells inside the jail. We are required to do random cell searches. We have 102 beds in our jail. There are 6 cell areas with one cell that holds 48 inmates. There are only 4 officers per shift and 1 has to be at the front desk. We have to pay overtime to do some of the cell searches because of the lack of manpower.

Adding an extra correctional officer per shift will help when we have fights in the jail. Remember one officer has to remain at the front desk. Right now we are 1 person short on 2 shifts. This means on those shifts if there is a fight, only 2 officers can go into a cell with up to 48 inmates in it, break up the fight and keep the cell door secure or they have to lock themselves in with the inmates.

This will help with inmate hospital transports. Correctional officers are required to stay with an inmate at all times when outside of the jail facility. These hospital transports can run into days and sometimes be at a hospital in Nashville. This causes many hours of overtime and extreme fatigue for the officers who are having to sit with the inmate at the hospital and drive back and forth to Nashville.

We are required to send inmates to outside doctor appointments, dentist appointments, and OBGYN appointments. Some have to be set on court days which require extra manpower resulting in overtime. This would also allow for extra help on court days for getting inmates ready for court and sitting with them in the courthouse. We cannot keep male and female inmates together, so court days require us to have 2 additional correctional officers in court.

By adding these additional correctional officers, this would allow a correctional officer to take a vacation without costing overtime to the county.

This will also allow time for the required training for correctional officers without costing overtime.

I would ask if these budget requests are not feasible for the budget committee to consider, that you would please meet with me again before passing the budget to the full commission,” Sheriff Ray concluded.




State Proclamation Pays Tribute to Former Fiddlers Jamboree Coordinator

March 8, 2019
By: Dwayne Page

A former longtime President and Coordinator of the Smithville Fiddlers Jamboree and Crafts Festival has been honored by the Tennessee General Assembly.

A proclamation paying tribute to the late Neil Dudney was signed last fall by Speaker of the State Senate Randy McNally, State Senator Mark Pody, and State Representatives Terri Lynn Weaver and Clark Boyd.

Dudney passed away on October 16, 2018

Neil was very involved with the Smithville Fiddlers Jamboree from the beginning in 1972, where he began as a sound technician and later served as the President/Coordinator for 16 years until 2008.

The proclamation states:

“WHEREAS, we were greatly saddened to learn of the passing of Neil Dudney of Smithville; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Dudney was an exemplary public servant and consummate professional, who worked assiduously to improve the quality of life for his fellow citizens in numerous capacities; and

WHEREAS, the son of John Lyman and Ruby Mae Birdwell Dudney, Neil Dudney was born on October 5, 1932, in Jackson County; and

WHEREAS, after graduating from Jackson County High School, Mr. Dudney went on to receive his Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture from Tennessee Technological University; his first job as a federal employee was as a substitute rural mail carrier for five years with the Gainesboro Post Office; and

WHEREAS, in 1957, he began working with the United States Department of Agriculture Soil Conservation Services in Linden and was later transferred to Lawrenceburg and then Wartburg; in August 1967, he was transferred to Smithville, where he worked as a district conservationist. He retired in 1987 after thirty years of exceptional service; and

WHEREAS, no stranger to awards and accolades, Neil Dudney was awarded a certificate of merit from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1979 for outstanding performance of duties, one of only two given in the State; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Dudney was committed to serving his community, as evidenced by his integral work as a member of the Board of Tourism, Chamber of Commerce, Board of Center Hill Academy, and Lions Club; he also helped make major improvements to Green Brook Park in 1979 and helped establish Smithville Day School; and

WHEREAS, Neil Dudney was a devoted member of the Church of Christ since his baptism at Whitleyville Church of Christ in 1948; after moving to Smithville, he served the Smithville Church of Christ as a deacon for twelve years and an elder for eighteen years; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Dudney was a man of many passions, one of which was music; he was involved with the Smithville Fiddlers Jamboree since its inception in 1972, serving first as a sound technician and later as president/coordinator, in which capacity he served for sixteen years until 2008; and

WHEREAS, deeply devoted to his family, Mr. Dudney always endeavored to remain true to family values of the highest order; and

WHEREAS, left to cherish his memory are his beloved wife of fifty-six years, Emma Jean Wilmoth Dudney; twin daughters, Janet (Brian) England and Susan (Brian) Berry; four grandchildren, Dr. Laura England (Brandon) Ross, Brandon (Sara) Shaw, Ethan (Rachel) Shaw, and Dylan Shaw; two great-grandsons, Carson Shaw and Charles Ross; one sister-in-law, Frances Dudney Crowder; one niece, Linda Dudney; and one nephew, John Dudney; and

WHEREAS, in addition to his parents, Neil Dudney was preceded in death by two brothers, Joe Lester Dudney and Charles Clark Dudney; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Dudney leaves behind an indelible legacy of integrity and probity in public life, compassion and loyalty in private life, and diligence and dedication in all his chosen endeavors; and

WHEREAS, it is fitting that we should remember the bountiful life of this exceptional public servant and human being; now, therefore,

I, Randy McNally, Speaker of the Senate of the One Hundred Tenth General Assembly of the State of Tennessee, at the request of and in conjunction with Senator Mark Pody, Representative Clark Boyd, and Representative Terri Lynn Weaver, do hereby proclaim that we honor the memory of Neil Dudney, reflecting fondly upon his impeccable character and his stalwart commitment to living the examined life with courage and conviction. We offer our condolences to the family of Mr. Dudney.

Proclaimed in Nashville, Tennessee, on this the 22nd day of October 2018.”




State Representative Clark Boyd Introduces Legislation Protecting Law Abiding Citizens with Handgun Carry Permits

March 8, 2019
By: Dwayne Page

Legislation sponsored by State Representative Clark Boyd (R-Lebanon) that streamlines current law and protects the rights of our concealed carry permit holders is moving through the committee process in the Tennessee General Assembly.

This week, members of the House Constitutional Protections & Sentencing Subcommittee voted to advance House Bill 545, which protects the rights of Tennessee’s law abiding citizens who are handgun carry permit holders. The bill seeks to give protection for concealed handgun carry permit holders who unknowingly enter a private facility or business with posted firearm policies so long as that person was unaware that the property was posted and leaves immediately upon being made aware.

Under current law it is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by a $500 fine to possess a firearm on a property that is properly posted. The overall goal of House Bill 545 is to ensure that law abiding citizens are not unreasonably punished if that person unknowingly enters a posted business and is willing to leave immediately upon being made aware .

“This measure protects our concealed carry permit holders in situations where an honest mistake was made,” said Representative Boyd. “In the event that a law abiding permit holder unknowingly enters a business or property that is posted and discovers this after the fact, it only makes sense that the person be allowed to leave the premises rather than being issued a citation.”

Clark Boyd serves as Chairman of the House Consumer and Human Resources Committee, and as a member of the Calendar and Rules, Commerce, and Select Committees on Rules. Boyd is also a member of the House Employee Affairs and House Utilities Subcommittees. He lives in Lebanon and represents Tennessee House District 46, which includes Cannon, and parts of Wilson and Dekalb Counties. He can be reached by email at: Rep.Clark.Boyd@capitol.tn.gov or by calling (615)-741-7086.




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