Carroll sheriff, union spar on deputy transfers Charges of 'retribution,' 'sour grapes' traded

March 08, 1996|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

The Carroll County sheriff and a fledgling deputies' union he does not recognize are battling over the transfer of four deputies.

Sheriff John H. Brown said he was trying to trim the office budget, as ordered by the County Commissioners, not "bust a union."

Deputy First Class Ed Smith, president of the Carroll County Sheriff's Office Employees Association representing 22 of 100 certified police and correctional officers, is among those being transferred. He said the transfers were "retribution against the association."

"The sheriff is not following his own general orders or procedures," Deputy Smith said yesterday. "There are written criteria -- experience, job performance and seniority -- and the sheriff seems to think he can change them whenever he wants."

Sheriff Brown called the union official's reaction "sour grapes." He said the budget office initially demanded that $236,150 be cut from his fiscal 1997 budget.

"I was able to get them to agree to cutting only $106,000," he said. "It made the most sense to do that by transferring a sergeant, a corporal and a deputy upstairs to the detention center where there are -- or will be by the end of the month -- three vacancies through normal attrition."

Besides Deputy Smith, of the fugitive and warrants division, the others to be transferred to correctional officer jobs are Sgt. Kevin O'Leary, a patrol officer, and Cpl. Neil Wuethrich, who works a courthouse security detail. Sgt. Thomas Bader, assigned to the fugitive warrants division, was transferred to replace Sergeant O'Leary on patrol.

All transfers are effective April 4, the sheriff said, to coincide with the beginning of the last quarter of the fiscal year.

"By making the move now, we're saving $117,236 -- slightly more than the county wanted -- but that means we didn't need to cut the staff by four salaries before July 1," Sheriff Brown said. "If I hadn't made the transfers, the men would have lost their jobs."

Deputy Smith said: "The sheriff isn't doing us any favors. I never wanted to be a correctional officer, which requires a different state certification than needed by a patrol officer."

Accepting the transfer means being on probation for six months, attending the academy for correctional officers, losing out on promotions among patrol officers and starting at the bottom as a correctional officer. TC Deputy Smith said the sheriff had other options, if he didn't want to cut jobs.

"The sheriff could have spread it out among all the deputies, each taking a week of [unpaid] furlough," he said.

The sheriff said he does not recognize the union, which is affiliated with the International Union of Police Associations, because it has no bargaining power.

He said he is not opposed to all unions, but "some appropriate for certain situations."

so members could pay union dues by having money withheld from each paycheck.

"All I ever said was that I didn't have the authority to take money out of anyone's paycheck," the sheriff said.

"I never heard anymore about it."

Pub Date: 3/08/96

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