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Merit System Reforms – DISCUSSION

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    Larsen Jay


    To follow up on last night’s discussion on my proposed Merit System reforms, several of you expressed there might be additional questions or further revisions to consider. Please post those here in advance of next week’s Commission meeting so I can review and address them. Links to the documents under consideration are below:

    [Commissioner Jay’s Reforms Summary] –

    [Ordinance] –

    [Exhibit A “red-lined version”] –

    Terry Hill

    This was sent to me by a uniformed sheriff’s officer. I believe it deserves consideration. Thanks, Terry.
    a. Section 9.5.1 labeled “General” has been removed and a new section, labeled under the new ordinance Sec42-67 Grievances which may be addressed by the Merit System Board. What is interesting is the removal of such terminology and rights for employees such as: “a grievance is defined as any perceived wrong, considered as grounds for complaint arising out of a personnel action” –
    b. The new Sec 42-60, labeled Transfers – this section appears to have been closely rewritten, wherein it was added that the Sheriff can transfer employees from one position to another within and between classes of positions. What is interesting, as you refer to the exhibit A provided by Commissioner Jay, is that “as determined by the Sheriff” was added and “only under rules established by the merit system council” –
    These two items alone should be alarming to any of you that wish to keep qualified, dedicated deputies employed to protect your constituents. What is being proposed is a total removal of protections of employees from political retaliation, as well as unstable leadership. We have seen in communities around us, Oak Ridge for example, what a leader can do to people’s lives that only signed up to work and protect the community. If you all do not thing more should be added to ensure that in 80 years someone cannot come in and move people, without cause, from positions which they have been trained in (which, mind you, costs taxpayer dollars) please feel free to be transparent so that those that can make changes in their lives can do so.

    Courtney Durrett

    Some questions/thoughts on the proposed changes:

    42-52 – Positions and employees included in system:
    New language – “The Sheriff’s appointees shall be those employees…” – Is there a restriction on the number of appointees? Will these employees be aware their job does NOT fall under protections of the Merit System when hired?

    42-53 – Merit System Board of Directors:
    If we must increase the number of members, I think five is more reasonable, since COK, Nashville and Memphis have five. Hamilton Co. actually has 3 members because they follow the 1974 state law.

    42-58 – Competitive tests; lists of eligibles:
    (a) New language – “…the board shall, as often as required by the necessity of and the request of the office of the Sheriff, hold tests for the purpose of establishing lists of eligibles for the various positions of the classified service.”

    What does testing at the request of the Sheriff mean? Immediate testing? Schedule testing?

    (a) New language – “Prior to placement on the list of eligibles, background investigations must be completed by the Sheriff and the candidate found in conformity with standards.

    The current process begins with the records department completing the criminal history check (which is done before anything else). If they have a criminal history, they do not even move forward with testing since there is an expense to test each applicant. Currently, the Sheriff’s office only does their background checks on the applicants they select to move forward with after they have passed our initial process and have been placed on the eligibility list.

    Removing “by the Sheriff” will keep the process as it is currently.

    42-60 – Transfers:
    New language – “All employees in the classified service may be transferred from one position to another within and between classes of positions as determined by the Sheriff only under rules established by the merit system council.” The merit rules that pertain to transfers are the classification plan set forth in 42-55. Striking this portion of the language and replacing it with “as determined by the Sheriff” removes protections created under the classification plan. Simply removing the language “as determined by the Sheriff” will remedy this contradiction.

    42-67 – Grievances which may be addressed by the Merit System Board:
    Are the grievances listed the only grievable offenses? There is no mention of employees being able to grieve any transfer or demotion for political reasons.

    General question – Do we need to be compliant with state law?

    Larsen Jay


    Thank you for the feedback and questions. I met with the Law Dept. this morning to address these items, and others.

    There will be a revised “red-line” Exhibit A document coming out to you this afternoon that clarifies some of the language within the proposed Merit Council reforms. I will also have a color copy for you at the meeting for reference.

    Thank you,

    – Commissioner Jay

    Larsen Jay


    Since last presented, discussed, and voted on in first reading, some minor revisions have been made to the proposed Merit System reforms. The newest top-sheet narrative and “red-line” documents are posted on the online agenda:

    Proposed Reforms – Jay (7-12-22)
    Exhibit A – revised 7-12-22

    Looking forward to the discussion at Monday’s work session. Let me know if you have any questions.

    – Commissioner Jay

    Terry Hill

    Got it, thanks for your work on this.

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