What’s the Deal? Why Change? Knox Sheriff -v- KCSO Merit System Council

Last month, the Knox County Commission postponed a second vote to streamline and save taxpayer dollars on changing a procedural action of the Knox County Sheriffs Office Merit System Council.

No one from KCSO objected on first reading in July, at the workshop or Commission meeting. At the August workshop again no objection. But one week later at the August Commission meeting Sheriff Tom Spangler, KCSO’s Mike Ruble and new KCSO HR personnel Lysette Aviles  wanted a panel from the Merit Council, KCSO and the Commission to open the proverbial pandora box and research and propose several changes.

In full disclosure, I served on the Merit System Council as an Alternate Member in the late 90’s. After I had served for several years on the Knox County Jail Inspection Committee.

The purpose of the Merit System Council is to accept applications, conduct the background checks, conduct the tests and supply the Sheriffs office the list of eligible persons for employment. It also serves in helping the Sheriff to advance qualified people up the chain of command.

The council and it’s work of four people keep politics out of the hiring and promoting of employees through the ranks of the department.

The Council’s Director Paula Taylor and employee Nina Walker have been at the council through at least three Sheriff administration, Former Sheriff Tim Hutchison, Former Sheriff Jimmy JJ Jones and now Spangler. A move to eliminate the Council or fundamentally change its operation is a step back into the nepotism days of the 1980’s. Taking a step backwards is not a good move and this County Commission will be the ones responsible for taking the department to the dark days of the past.

This seems very similar to the action earlier this year when the City of Knoxville desired to take the Civil Services in house. Why is this necessary? It just seems political and all because KCSO has a new HR person.

Let’s hope there haven’t been any conversations that have said that the intent is to dissolve the Council and that if there were those discussions that it wasn’t recorded. But who knows, that could just be a bloggers wish.

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