By Jim Allen
The Douglas County Personnel, Legal, and Management Subcommittee convened at 9:00 a.m. on March 3, 2020. All committee members were present. The committee discussed the current policy concerning vacation days, personal days, bereavement days, and sick days. The committee wanted to make sure that the policies for each of these were consistent with the employee handbook.
At this time the employees receive 10 vacation days for the first seven years of service. After seven years of service, an employee will be credited annually with 15 paid vacation days. After fourteen years of service 20 days are received and after 20 years twenty-five days are received. Three personal days are permitted each year and three bereavement days are received per event. At this time county policy is that any vacation days not used in the calendar year earned will be lost. The county will not ”buy back” any unused vacation time. However, one line in the policy states that “Exceptions must be approved by the Personnel, Legal and Management Sub-Committee.” A question was raised regarding whether these policies are contradictory.
Sheriff Joshua Blackwell was present regarding a personnel issue in the Sheriff’s Department. In August of 2019, a Correctional Officer received complaints from
Inmates regarding alleged improper conduct by the Jail Administrator. This information was relayed to DCSO Administrative Staff. Due to the nature of the allegations, Sheriff Blackwell elected to place the employee in question on administrative leave pending an internal investigation.
During the course of this investigation, the Deputy assigned to the case discovered evidence that led him to believe a crime may have been committed. To protect the integrity of the investigation and provide impartiality, assistance from the Illinois State Police Department of Criminal Investigation (DCI) was sought.
DCI agents then began to further this investigation. During the course of the investigation, additional complaints were made that led to a dual DCI, DCSO investigation. The results of these investigations were forwarded to the Douglas County State’s Attorney’s Office. The DCSA then requested the assistance of the Illinois Appellate Prosecutor’s office.
On March 2, 2020, a Special Prosecutor assigned to review the investigations filed charges in Douglas County Circuit Court on the employee in question. The charge filed was Official Misconduct. Because of the pending criminal and administrative cases, no further comment could be made on the matter. Sheriff Blackwell wanted to bring the information to the attention of the board since it involves an employee of the County.
Before adjourning, the committee chairman asked for question from those in attendance. A question was brought forward as to how vacancies in the county board were addressed. Specifically, the question concerned what vetting took place for potential board members. Phil Morris stated that when Mike Carroll resigned, he suggested to the board that Mr. Morris should take his place and that no questions were asked of him. At this time, it seems that only members of the Douglas County Health Board are required to be vetted.