Sheriff’s deputy disputes law enforcement commission appointment

A Shelby County Sheriff’s Office deputy is seeking to fight a recent Shelby County Commission appointment to a county law enforcement commission.

During a Dec. 14 commission meeting, Sheriff’s Office Deputy Russell Bedsole presented a letter to the commission disputing its recent appointment of County Manager Alex Dudchock to the county’s Law Enforcement Personnel Board.

The law enforcement board routinely handles all personnel matters related to the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, including some payroll matters, officer discipline and promotion. Dudchock will serve on the board without compensation.

In the letter, Bedsole said Dudchock will not be able to serve as an objective member of the law enforcement board because his employment by the commission “creates a gross conflict of interest.”

“By virtue of his professional relationship to the sheriff, this appointment by the commission is no different than if Sheriff Chris Curry appointed his Chief Deputy John Samaniego to be his representative on the board,” Bedsole wrote in his letter, noting he was speaking on behalf of the sheriff’s department employees.

“More than 200 men and women who proudly serve this county request you immediately reconsider your appointment of Mr. Dudchock to the Law Enforcement Personnel Board,” Bedsole wrote.

The Shelby County commission appointed Dudchock to the board temporarily to replace Lyle Mitchell, the commission’s former board appointment. Dudchock will serve on the board until the commission names a permanent replacement for Mitchell.

The commission recently voted to provide no merit or cost-of-living raises to county employees during the 2010 fiscal year.

Though the commission requested Sheriff Chris Curry not provide the raises to his employees, the sheriff budgeted merit raises for his employees for the 2010 fiscal year.

The raises are expected to cost the county about $343,000, which will come out of money budgeted to the sheriff for equipment, according to Dudchock.

The decision to eliminate raises for the 2010 fiscal year was made in the face of “extraordinarily difficult financial times” for the county, according to District 7 Commissioner and Commission President Lindsey Allison.

“We wanted to appoint someone who had a profound knowledge of this financial situation,” Allison said. “Alex understands all of the internal workings of the county. He’s always kind of at the eye of the storm, and in the past he was a personnel director.

“This is intended to be a positive move. It’s not intended to hurt anyone,” Allison added. “The commission is operating perfectly within its means by appointing Alex to this board.”

Dudchock said he planned to serve on the law enforcement board in the same manner he serves on other county boards.

“I plan to serve without compensation, and to serve in the same manner as with the other boards that I’m currently a member of in Shelby County,” Dudchock wrote in an e-mail. “I believe that one of the important roles of the board is to be (a) checks, balances and review entity to promote consistent personnel actions to ensure both practical and accountable decisions.”