Tension at the El Paso County Sheriff's Office.
On Monday (5/12/14), three division commanders were put on paid administrative leave.
The sheriff's office has confirmed the commanders filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). KRDO called the sheriff's office to get more information several times and stopped by headquarters in search of more answers.
Lt. Jeff Kramer said the office is not doing any on-camera interviews, instead it released a written statement, which you can read in its entirety at the bottom of those article.
The statement said, "None of them (the commanders) have been placed on paid administrative leave due to an EEOC complaint received, but rather their leave is as a result of a pending investigation into several policy violations."
The written statement then went on to address "There is no definitive timeline, but the leave will be in place pending the outcome of the independent investigation into their actions... decisions on those who will be 'acting' for these particular commanders are still being determined".
KRDO asked the sheriff's office if the administrative leave has anything to do with an article in last Saturday's Gazette about Sheriff Maketa's nomination for the One Hundred Club award. Unnamed commanders told The Gazette they thought other people were more deserving of the award, which is for first responders who go above and beyond the call of duty.
The sheriff's office said no further information will be released.
Original Statement Provided to the Media:
We confirm that three Division Commanders have been placed on administrative leave. None of them have been placed on administrative leave due to an EEOC complaint that was received, but rather their leave is as a result of a pending investigation into several policy violations. Outside counsel has been obtained and an independent investigation will be conducted into these matters. These issues are deemed ‘personnel matters’, some of which involve potential litigation, and additional details will not be shared.
Q and A from one media outlet:
Are the commanders on paid or unpaid administrative leave? THEY ARE ON PAID ADMIN LEAVE.
How long does the Sheriff's Office anticipate them being on leave? THERE IS NO DEFINITIVE TIMELINE, BUT THE LEAVE WILL BE IN PLACE PENDING THE OUTCOME OF THE INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION INTO THEIR ACTIONS.
Can you explain what sort of policies are in place to fill their positions while they are gone? THE OFFICE MANAGES ABSENCES ON A DAILY BASIS FOR A WIDE VARIETY OF REASONS. SOME OF THESE ABSENCES RESULT FROM ROUTINE COMMON ILLNESS TO VACATIONS TO EXTENDED OUT OF TOWN TRAINING TO PERIODS OF LEAVE. REGARDLESS OF THE REASON FOR THE ABSENCE, IF THE ABSENCE WILL EXCEED WHAT MIGHT BE SEEN FOR A COMMON ILLNESS, SOMEONE IS EMPOWERED AND APPOINTED TO SERVE AS THE "ACTING" FOR THE POSITION WHERE THE TEMPORARY VACANCY EXISTS. MOST OFTEN, THE "ACTING" IS A MEMBER WHO IS ONE RANK LOWER AND ASSIGNED WITHIN THE SAME DIVISION. POLICY 304, WHICH GOVERNS SALARY AND BENEFITS, DOES AUTHORIZE SOMEONE "OUT OF TITLE PAY" IF THEY ARE ASSIGNED AS "ACTING" AT A HIGHER GRADE FOR A PERIOD WHICH EXCEEDS 30 DAYS
Who fills in for them? DECISIONS ON THOSE WHO WILL BE "ACTING" FOR THESE PARTICULAR COMMANDERS ARE STILL BEING DETERMINED.
ALTHOUGH INTERNAL INVESTIGATIONS ALWAYS HAVE THE POTENTIAL TO CREATE SOME LEVEL OF DISTRACTION WITHIN THE OFFICE, SHERIFF TERRY MAKETA WOULD LIKE TO ASSURE THE PUBLIC THERE WILL BE NO DISRUPTION TO EMERGENCY RESPONSE OR SERVICE DELIVERY OF ANY KIND WHILE THESE INTERNAL MATTERS ARE BEING ADDRESSED.