Due to several requests, I am posting this letter here so that more people can read it without having to befriend me on FaceBook.
I will be asking commissioners about this letter, interviewing the sheriff and continuing to gather information this week about the current situation at the Sheriff’s Office.
Commissioner W.C. Jarman, Chairman
Commissioner Paul Buchanan, Vice Chairman
Commissioner Barbara Ikner
Commissioner William H. Keller III
Commissioner Lionell Midgett
Onslow County Attorney, Lesley Moxley
To the Onslow County Board of Commissioners,
RE: To Develop and sustain a positive working environment and relationship among employees of the Onslow County Sheriff’s and the Sheriff of Onslow County.
I am very concerned at what has been going on lately at the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office. Just recently two more Deputies from the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office were fired. My concern is not over the reason why these two Deputies were fired from the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office, but for the exorbitant number of law enforcement officers being fired at the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office by Sheriff Ed Brown. While it is public knowledge that all employees of the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office work at the leisure of the Sheriff, it is still questionable as to why so many officers are being fired. Is the screening process not good enough? Is the Sheriff looking for the perfect officer (Does not exist)! Whatever the case, there is much need for concern. The firing of officers is outweighing the number of qualified officers to do the job productively and proficiently. They were short-handed on personnel before, I can just imagine that it is worse now with all the employee terminations.
Over the past year to year and a half, an exorbitant number of officers have been fired from the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office. Even though some have been fired for just cause, many of the terminations were not for just cause reasons, but for retaliation from Sheriff Ed Brown himself. Quite frankly, the majority of these firings are cause for worry. The Sheriff has been putting himself and the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office in a situation that foresees possible lawsuits against the Sheriff and the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office. For example, if the Sheriff decides to fire an employee, he can do so for just about any reason he may have, with the exceptions of certain reasons and/or circumstances. However, the Sheriff of Onslow County takes things further and superfluously goes out of his way, and tries to convince department heads of other law enforcement agencies not to hire his former employees. This is a fact, and at least one of you county commissioners know this to be true, because of your relationship with a sister law enforcement agency and being privy to such information.
Many of these former employees did not do anything criminal, negligent, or did anything that would disqualify them from keeping or obtaining certification at another law enforcement agency, and/or getting unemployment benefits if they apply for it. In other words, no real justification for termination of the employee is given however, the sheriff, for some reason, has been compelled to blackball many of his former employees. Some of these same former employees have found employment with other law enforcement agencies and are much happier, treated better, paid better, etc, at their new place of employment. As many of you county commissioners already know, in order for a(n) person and/or officer to gain employment with another law enforcement agency, or to keep his or her law enforcement certification, he or she must go through an extensive background check with the new hiring law enforcement agency and respective commission.
We in the State of North Carolina have (2) different types of law enforcement training and standards commission bodies; which are commissions that regulate standards for the training and certification of sheriff’s deputies, law enforcement officers, etc. They are the North Carolina Sheriff’s Education and Training Standards, and the Criminal Justice Education & Training Standards. Each commission does its own independent training, certification, background check, etc, for each and every law enforcement candidate or current officer within its commission, in order for an individual to become a law enforcement officer, and/or to retain his/her certification. If during the process of an application of employment any discrepancy, negative factor, etc is discovered a certification can and will be denied or taken away. Once that is done, the individual will not be able to be a law enforcement officer in the state of North Carolina; that is unless the disqualifier is something that does not prevent the individual from becoming a law enforcement officer.
The reason I went into such detail explaining this process, is because it is very hard for me to believe that these law enforcement officers that were fired from the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office have all done something criminal or immoral as to where their character will come into question. I do understand and do know that some of the officers that have been fired were fired justly as I stated before in the beginning of this letter, but not all fall into this category. Many of them have found employment at other law enforcement agencies within the county, or at the state and federal levels of law enforcement. My concern with all this is that it seems more than likely that the Sheriff of Onslow County has terminated the employment of theses officer for vindictive reasons, and has nothing to do with the qualifications, job performance, etc, of the terminated officers. What it seems like is that for personal reasons unbeknown to us, he has decided to terminate the employment of many very, competent, qualified and extensively trained law enforcement officers.
It has been the opinion of many, that it should be necessary for Sheriff Ed Brown to explain his reasons for the termination of the officers. However, certain laws within the state of North Carolina prevent certain employee/employer disclosures. With this in mind, it is very troublesome, and a negative reflection upon former employees of the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office when the sheriff purposely withholds from the terminated employee, the reason for his or her dismissal; especially if the former employee did not do anything wrong that would have caused another law enforcement officer of a sister agency to lose his or her job if the same was done. Many people around the county and the state of North Carolina are well aware of what is taking place within the contents of the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office, but they have chosen to ignore the situation, and/or are hoping that it will just go away so that they do not have to deal with the issue at hand. Nonetheless, the problem is not going to go away until it gets properly rectified, and firing officers for simplistic reasons is not the answer.
I know that the Board of commissioners like to take a back seat approach to how the operation of the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office is handled, but enough is enough. I know that the main reason that you all chose to ignore what is taking place at the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office is because you are all scared of Sheriff Ed Brown and it will be political suicide to go against him, or to investigate the matters that are taking place at the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office. You all have elected to take the coward way out and have allowed for the employees of the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office to suffer in silent, and to have to work in such dictatorship leadership, and have no one to protect them. It has been stated by some of you county commissioners before, that you can not control what the Sheriff does or does not do at the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office.
I beg to differ, that the hands of the Onslow County Board of Commissioners are tied when it comes to regulating negligent actions conducted by the Sheriff, or having no discretion at all, when it comes to a county agency that is allocated monies by the Onslow County Board of Commissioners; provided by Onslow County tax paying citizens. Not only do I blame all off you commissioners, I also blame the county attorney. I feel that she should know what has been taking place at the Sheriff’s Office; after all she does know of at least one former deputy who did hire an attorney for reasons that could have been avoided if the Sheriff was not as stubborn as he is. No matter what the case is, you all are public servants and you get paid to provide a service to all the citizens of Onslow County, which also includes, providing a service to county employees who also are tax paying citizens and members of the Onslow County community. Law Enforcement Officers, like many other people, like to be led by someone whom they respect and in whom they have confidence in; unfortunately the respect and confidence that once was Sheriff Browns’ forte has eroded and unfortunately is becoming his downfall.