“It was a pay cut, but I’m satisfied,” said Woodruff, who started Wednesday as a correctional sergeant in the intake division. “I’m thankful to have a job and support my family,” although he said the transfer “doesn’t make sense” since he was accused of four policy violations at the jail.
He said the sheriff’s office “forgot to give me a pre-termination hearing, so they had to reinstate me to give me the hearing” May 11 with his supervisor, Chief Deputy Frank Kirby.
Kirby said he hadn’t been aware of the pre-termination requirement, adding, “We’ve never done one before, that’s how new it was.” Human Resources Director Lavelle Barnes said the policy took effect on Aug. 1, 2008.
Barnes said she doesn’t think it’s an issue with the five jailers who were terminated April 30 for allegedly roughing up an inmate at the jail.
Before Woodruff’s appeal could go further, he took one of two vacant positions at the Correctional Institute, which houses state and county prisoners. Public safety positions are exempt from the county’s hiring freeze.
“It’s like a revolving door at the Jail and Correctional Institute” because it’s a tough job and a lot of new hires decide it’s not for them, said County Manager Mike Dobbs.
“His (Woodruff’s) experience will add a lot to the CI and I think the warden (Dexter Wells) realized that,” Dobbs said.
Sheriff Donny Turner has said Woodruff was dismissed because he acted “without proper authority” in allowing a female inmate charged with driving on a suspended license to go to the driver’s license bureau in LaGrange on April 24, then to Columbus four days later. By obtaining a valid driver’s license, the charge was dismissed in State Court and a parole violation charge will be dismissed in Superior Court, Turner said.
In a letter to Woodruff on May 13, the sheriff cited policy violations involving “release, command responsibility, chain of command, professional image, on and off duty conduct, negligence, and inefficiency or incompetence in the performance of duties/knowingly giving false statements to supervisors.”
Woodruff said he denied any wrongdoing at the pre-termination hearing, but declined to elaborate.
“He never said he did nothing wrong,” Kirby said. “He said, ‘I’m a dedicated employee of 20 years, I love my career and all I ask is that you reconsider my termination. If you want to suspend me or transfer me because I let you down, I don’t have a problem working the night shift in the jail.”
Kirby said Woodruff told him he’d never been given a jail manual, but “of course he had one. I terminated him for failing to follow it.”