Thompson said during the Monday morning work session the Commission needs to address the civil service act because there are a lot of employees “that politically — they’re done wrong. If you’ve been there 15 or 20 years, I don’t think you need to be put out of (a) job or have ... pay cut in half, because those people have families too.”
Thompson’s comments came after Bradley County Sheriff Department Capt. Jim Ruth, who is in charge of court security, was elected sheriff Thursday by defeating fellow Capt. Steve Lawson.
The commissioner scheduled a Law Enforcement Committee meeting at 11 a.m. Thursday to discuss court security and the Sheriff’s Civil Service Act of 1974. Buildings and Land Committee members will meet at 11:30 a.m. Both meetings will be held in the courthouse.
He said there was never a problem with employees during the 18 1/2 years under former Sheriff Dan Gilley.
“When (Sheriff Tim) Gobble got in, I don’t guess we really realized what took place down at the sheriff‘s department,” Thompson said. “It doesn’t matter what happened. If you work at a place 16 or 20 years and all of a sudden you get your pay cut in half — we did pass something to protect their jobs, but we didn’t protect their pay or anything else.”
Commissioner Jeff Yarber said he supported the civil service act for law enforcement.
Concerning court security, Thompson asked for a cost estimate for making the east entrance on the upper floor of the courthouse an exit only door and adding a secure door leading from the parking garage.
Thompson said those would be the two top items on the list toward securing the building.
“If we could get that done it would give us a good start,” Thompson said. “That was the two things probably at the top of the list. That doesn’t seem like a lot of cost to start improving security here at the courthouse.”
County Mayor D. Gary Davis said he didn’t mind getting estimates as they have in the past. But his position has been to close the other doors when there is a commitment from the sheriff to man the magnetometer security equipment. An exit-only door upstairs does nothing to improve security because people can walk through the other doors.
“Unless the new sheriff is going to start manning the magnetometers and making everybody come in this door of the courthouse, then the upstairs door on the other end of the courthouse isn’t an issue,” he said. “If that door right out here (on the west end) is left open you didn’t do a thing to increase security.”
Commissioners voted 9-3 in May 2008 to reject a $10,000 state grant secured by State Rep. Eric Watson. The commissioners voted against a recommendation from the Building and Land Committee to accept a low bid of $8,980 for a gate, controller and additional security for the courthouse. At that time, it was estimated an additional $5,000 to $6,000 was needed for smoke and fire sensors and to bring the building into ADA compliance.
Commissioner Lisa Stanbery said she remembered Thompson voted against accepting the grant in 2008.