(Juneau) Some Dodge County Board supervisors are questioning a recent departmental move by the sheriff. Last month, Sheriff Dale Schmidt asked the county board for approval to convert a detective’s position on the department’s Drug Task Force to a sergeant’s position. Schmidt says the intent would be to change the organizational structure of the task force to create a supervisory role to better operate the unit. Ultimately, the county board voted to postpone any position changes until an audit of the sheriff’s office is completed in August.
Supervisors Cathy Houchin, Kira Sheahan-Malloy and David Guckenburger discussed the issue with us recently on WBEV’s Community Comment. Sheahan-Malloy says Schmidt sent an email to county staff shortly after the board’s ruling that was in direct conflict to their wishes. She cited an email obtained by open records request that states that Sergeant Joe Nicholas was temporarily assigned as sergeant of the drug task force effective April 29. Sheahan-Malloy notes a temporary position change is within the sheriff’s constitutional authority. She says no direct response is planned but adds the county board as a whole should look at Schmidt’s actions further.
Guckenburger says he received flak from other board member’s suggesting that he does not care about the drug problem because of his stance on the matter. He says that is far from the truth and believes the positional change would hurt the task force’s ability to investigate drug crimes. Guckenburger says he does not see how the county benefits by having the only detective assigned to the task force be eliminated and replaced by someone who is just going to do administrative tasks.
Schmidt says the detective’s position that he wanted to change to a sergeant was vacant at the time of his request and he did not want to leave it unfilled until a permanent decision could be made in August. He says Nicholas was moved from patrol to the task force on a temporary assignment so that they could continue to investigate drug crimes in the county. Schmidt says the sergeant’s position is not limited to administrative tasks but acts as a first line supervisor and is out conducting investigations.
Matrix Consulting of California was hired in December to conduct the audit of the Sheriff’s Office. Sheahan-Malloy, Guckenburger and Houchin hope their work will shine a better light on the staffing needs of the department.