In the past couple of months, two county employees filed a complaint against District 2 County Commissioner Cecilia Jones.
Outcry has arisen from the fact that when the aggrieved employees gave their depositions to the investigator hired by the County to determine wrongdoing, they were not allowed to have their attorney or any representative in the room with them.
District 4 Commissioner Melanie Nipper has set out to rectify the situation so that no other County employee has to be told no.
"The employees who filed a grievance and were part of an independent investigation asked for their attorney and it was not allowed. If an outside independent investigation is going on they are allowed to have their legal counsel present," Nipper told her fellow Commissioners at Tuesday's Board meeting.
District 1 Commissioner Bill Chapman agreed.
"Our policy at the Sheriff's office was that the aggrieved employee could bring someone with them and they could only observe but not interject as a non-participating representative," he said.
Jones, however, suggested looking at all policies instead of just this one so policies are not brought back at every meeting for revision.
"I also mentioned background checks," said Nipper. "I am asking for verbiage so that we understand this is our policy."
"Is there any reason we could not implement that now?" asked Chapman. "Even a Grand Jury allows a representative to be with a person giving testimony. I don't know why we can't do that."
Again, Jones objected, saying such policy is at the discretion of individual investigators.
However, citizens in the audience agreed with Nipper and Chapman.
"On this issue, do not wait for a comprehensive study," said Alan Osborne. "Cecilia says we need to take a comprehensive look at it, but no citizen should ever go before an investigator without counsel or just a witness. It's ridiculous. The constitution is pretty clear, but here, a citizen does not have that. We get three minutes to address our concerns with you and we have to sue for equal time given to a lawyer. Anything that makes it fair for an employee should be implemented. I have never seen this in the federal government. It should be fixed today."
To another citizen's comment, Jones said the County doesn't have a policy, so, she is not sure what the problem is.
"We're talking about human beings and rights," said Donna Johns. "It's only the human way to do it. I hope you follow through and follow through tonight."
However, Nipper said she did not have a problem with staff working out the verbiage for creating a policy and bringing it back to the next meeting.
Chapman suggested directing staff to have it ready by the first board meeting in January, and that motion passed.