Britton leave believed to be illegal
Harrison County Board of Commissioners Chairman James Goldman Monday night said Sheriff G. Michael Deatrick was not complying with the Indiana Code by placing police officer John Britton on administrative leave and allowing Britton to apply for unemployment.
Since October, the commissioners held Britton’s payroll checks until clarification from Deatrick about the status of his leave. Goldman said legal counsel John E. Colin has sent multiple letters to Deatrick requesting clarification but no response has been received.
‘He never had the courtesy to answer you,’ Goldman said.
Harrison County Auditor Pat Wolfe also recently sent a letter to the sheriff asking how Britton could be on leave and apply for unemployment. The chief of police and sheriff’s wife, Joyce Deatrick, told Wolfe that Britton is still an employee and has not been terminated.
Wolfe said that at the end of 2009 she had to send a W-2 form to Britton, the federal and state governments.
‘Mr. Britton is considered a county employee, by the discretion of the sheriff,’ Wolfe, in a letter to the commissioners, said. ‘There are papers on file in his folder instructing our office where to distribute his payroll. We have been doing so, pending further instruction from the commissioners and or attorney.’
Britton’s insurance, police retirement and any other benefits have to be taken out of the check before it is held, Wolfe said.
Britton was placed on leave after his wife, Christine, died of an alleged self-inflicted gunshot wound in March 2009 at the couple’s home near Ramsey. Indiana State Police investigators said John Britton admitted leaving a handgun in the room when, during an argument, his wife threatened to shoot herself.
In another administrative leave issue at the sheriff’s department, the commissioners instructed Colin to write a letter to the sheriff requesting corrections officer Nathan Adams to be put to work in some fashion but not in contact with inmates. The commissioners said they do not want to pay an employee for not working.
Adams was put on leave in July after he was named in a tort claim filed in June on behalf of an 18-year-old male from Louisville who says he was tortured while being held in the Harrison County Jail.
In May, Tevin Bald was allegedly placed in a padded cell where he was stripped naked, placed in a restraint chair and had a spit mask and hood placed over his face. According to the claim, Adams and corrections officer Ross Timberlake ‘maliciously sprayed the inside of the spit mask with mace and/or pepper spray which caused extreme physical and emotional trauma and pain and suffering to Tevin Bald.’
Wolfe, at the direction of the commissioners, held Adams’ paycheck until the commissioners could determine if it was paid or unpaid leave.
At the commissioners’ July 19 meeting, it was determined to be paid leave, and Adams was paid for 15 work days since being put on leave. After 15 days, the sheriff or the sheriff’s merit board must decide whether to continue the leave or not.
Adams’ pay was halted by the auditor’s office as of July 21, but Adams has requested pay for 39 hours of comp time and 116 hours of vacation, Wolfe said.