According to the court’s orders, my decision to terminate their employment did not result in a violation of either State or Federal law. The court’s decision came after almost a year of litigation, during which time the defendants, through their legal counsel, had the opportunity to present all of the evidence that they believed would support their claims.
My office produced all requested documents related to their claims, and multiple witnesses provided testimony under oath. After all evidence was reviewed, the court determined that the deputies’ claims were without merit, and should not proceed to trial. The cases were dismissed, and this matter is now concluded.
I am pleased that these cases were concluded favorably, both for my office, and for the people of Polk County. I have previously refrained from commenting on these cases, despite media accounts that simply repeated the deputies’ allegations, because I believe that it is important to allow our legal system to handle such controversies without commentary from the public officials involved.
As your sheriff, I am for the rule of law. If parties cannot agree with each other, they should be allowed to air their grievances in court in a civil manner.
I have always maintained that neither I nor anyone under my command acted inappropriately toward these deputies. However much I disagreed with their allegations, I understand that these deputies had a right to their day in court.
During this litigation I have continued to conduct my life and to run my office consistent with thesebeliefs. I am very proud that my office responded to these allegations in a civil and professional manner, and that my decision to terminate these deputies has been upheld.
If this matter has revealed anything, it has shown that, before someone clicks “send” on an e-mail or a web-site, they should consider the harm that they may cause. Once those words are posted, they cannot be brought back.
I was born and raised in Cedartown, and I’m proud to be from a small town. My parents, coaches, teachers and Sunday school teachers always taught me to be respectful when I disagreed with someone. They also taught me to take responsibility for my words and deeds, so that my word would be my bond.
I encourage everyone in our community to be mindful of these lessons, rather than choosing to hide behind a computer screen when they disagree with one of their neighbors.
Now that these matters are concluded, I would like to take this opportunity to let the citizens of Polk County know that, just like each of my predecessors in office, I have not adopted a “civil service” system for Sheriff’s Office employees.
Any Sheriff’s Office employee, including any deputy, can be terminated for cause. I have preserved the right to terminate employees for cause, and without the requirement of a civil service pre-termination hearing, because I believe that this is the best, most cost-effective manner for dealing with personnel issues.
My deputies, my staff and I are all employees of the people of Polk County. It is our job to serve the public, but such service does not place us above the law. Just like anyone else, we will lose our jobs if our behavior warrants termination.
Finally, I would like to thank my many supporters, who stood with me while these cases were pending.I have worked every day to perform my duties with efficiency and professionalism, andI take pride in the advancements that we’ve made since I took office.
While I appreciate my many supporters, I know that I’ve been elected to serve as Sheriff for all of the people of Polk County. If this experience has reminded me of anything, it is that am honored by the public’s trust, as I continue to serve as the chief law enforcement officer for the people of Polk County.