Jail official will undergo retraining Guard supervisor must be recertified by state academy

'Pass with flying colors'

Kimball removed from post last month after questions raised

June 12, 1996|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF

Hoping to end a monthlong controversy involving a top shift commander, officials at the Howard County Detention Center said yesterday they will send Capt. Thomas V. Kimball Jr. back to the state's training academy for five weeks to be recertified.

The decision came after state officials made it plain they would reject a waiver or an expedited training program for Kimball, who oversaw almost half of the jail's 99 correctional officers until The Sun raised questions about his certification last month.

"We're just going to recycle Captain Kimball" through the entry-level training program, said McLindsey Hawkins, security supervisor at the jail. "It would be easier for us to do it that way. He will pass with flying colors."

Reached at home for a comment yesterday, Kimball hung up.

Kimball, 48, whose career in corrections began in 1970, had been working as a supervisor at the jail since 1994 -- even though he lacked the certification for that job required by the Maryland Police and Correctional Training Commissions.

He was removed from his post last month after questions were raised about his lack of certification. He was reassigned to administrative duties, such as scheduling.

Because he had not worked in corrections for more than three years before taking the Howard job, state regulations require that he take five weeks of entry-level training courses to get that certification.

Jail officials had asked the Maryland Police and Correctional Training Commissions to waive the training requirement because of Kimball's extensive experience in corrections.

But they withdrew the request during the correctional training commission's meeting yesterday, after commission members made a motion against the waiver and proposed a review of Kimball's training history that jail officials feared could take months.

"If we are going to ensure competence, we should not compromise in that area," commission member Samuel Saxton said during the meeting.

Hawkins told commission members that the jail would drop the waiver request and immediately send Kimball to the training academy because "for us speed is of the essence."

The five-week, $50 training course will be paid for by the jail. Kimball is expected to enter the academy next week.

Kimball -- who resigned in 1989 as an assistant at the Eastern Correctional Institution in Somerset County amid allegations of drug use by a subordinate -- has drawn allegations of intimidation from some of the 42 jail employees he supervises.

And in February, he was involved in a fight with an inmate that led him to press charges against the inmate, Michael Saukas of Ellicott City.

Saukas told the Sun in interviews that he was beaten by Kimball while handcuffed.

The Saukas case is scheduled for trial tomorrow.

In the past, Kimball has declined comment on the Saukas case or on complaints by his subordinates.

His certification problems -- combined with last month's removal of another shift commander, Capt. Donald Smith, who twice failed an administrator's training test -- have put a strain on staffing at the jail, officials said.

At the jail's request, commission members voted yesterday to give Smith a third chance to pass the administrator's training test. But he will not be able to hold the position until he passes the examination. No time has been set for him take that test.

In the meantime, the jail's three remaining shift commanders -- all certified -- are sharing the duties of the two other captains.

Jail officials continue to insist that the Kimball certification incident was an oversight.

"Unfortunately, we forgot to put in for the waiver" when Kimball started in 1994, said James N. Rollins, director of the Howard jail. "We're going to get the matter resolved as soon as possible."

Pub Date: 6/12/96

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