The new leaders of the Adams County Sheriff's Department, Sheriff Shane Rekeweg and Chief Deputy Eric Meyer, informed the county council on Tuesday that they have developed a plan to eliminate the "carryover" for years of built-up hours of compensation time, vacation and holiday time, and overtime by some deputy sheriffs and jailers.
The problem was described by Meyer as "terrible" and Rekeweg clarified the situation by saying it involves "a few key employees," which later was indicated to be four or five people.
To end the buildup of extra hours, Rekeweg and Meyer, both of whom took their positions on January 1, have created a two-track solution:
(1) They received permission from the council to hire some fulltime Decatur and Berne police officers to patrol as part-time deputies, thus limiting hours worked by fulltime deputies.
It was also noted that one fulltime deputy is still serving in the U.S. military and another, Sgt. Terry Nevil, has been off work since January 1 with a back problem that may keep him out for an indefinite time.
In a related matter, the council approved the idea of hiring two part-time jailers. Rekeweg said the department also has a jailer serving in the military.
The sheriff said hiring police from Decatur and Berne as part-time deputies will put well-trained officers on the road who know the county well, so there will be no dropoff in service.
Rekeweg said it is his policy to always have at least two officers working each shift.
(2) Meyer reported the new policy allows each person in the department only one year to use up all of his or her comp time, OT, etc. achieved that year. There will be no more carryovers from year to year.
Said Meyer, "My goal is to have this under control in a 12-month period."
In fact, the two men said, the department's personnel have been issued weekly time sheets to be filled out.
Meyer and County Attorney Mark Burry said current regulations allow a deputy sheriff to work 86 hours per two-week pay period. After that, the deputy gets comp time or is paid time and one-half for overtime.
Two councilmen, Dennis Bluhm and Stan Stoppenhagen, said they want to have Rekeweg and Meyer make this change into a formal written policy so it can be continued by future sheriffs. Rekeweg said he is in the process of doing that, basing the policy on national standards.
"Sounds like the department is being managed for the first time in a while," stated council president Randy Colclasure.
"That's an understatement," added councilman Kenyon Sprunger.