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Ex-Forsyth captain fired in shakeup wants job back

Says 'legal action' not off table

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April 01, 2013
FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — After the Forsyth County Civil Service Board chose not to consider hearing the case of 11 sheriff's deputies laid off in February during a restructuring, some have reached out to news outlets to tell their side of the story.

On March 8, the Civil Service Board read and acknowledged a letter to deny the appeal of the 11 deputies seeking their jobs back. Pat Carson, the county's personnel director, denied the appeal because it was a reduction in force. The Civil Service Board agreed with Carson's findings.

On Feb. 20, Forsyth County Sheriff Duane Piper laid off 11 veteran officers in an effort to restructure the agency, eliminate what he called "middle management" and make the office more "efficient."

Piper had campaigned on this promise and said the move will save the sheriff's office $1 million a year.

All deputies, through attorney Lance LoRusso, have asked for their positions to be reinstated, but after the Civil Service Board denial, it's unclear if they will take legal action.

But Maj. Rick Doyle, director of operations for the sheriff's office, says the office is in the right.

"Our legal research was completed prior to implementation of the restructuring," Doyle said. "We consider this matter closed and there is nothing to settle."

In a letter to the Forsyth Herald, Chris Barrett, a former captain at the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office, who worked in the office for 17 years, said he was shocked at the sheriff's action and continued silence from Forsyth County commissioners.

"Many of the 11 have risked our lives on many occasions and sacrificed our family relationships for this community," Barrett wrote. "Combined, we have 197 years serving and protecting this county. Not one of us got into this profession for the money; knowing the dangers we put ourselves into was not the reason we did it…We served a community, not a sheriff."

Barrett said he was not offered and was denied the option to take a voluntary demotion to fill open positions within the sheriff's office.

"Piper has chosen to hire rookies instead of allowing the trained and experienced fill the position," he said.

Barrett and the other 10 former sheriff's office employees still believe their jobs to be protected under civil service.

Barrett also says the sheriff's office had money in its budget until the end of the year.

"There is money in that budget to keep all 11 terminated employees," Barrett said. "Crime has not gone down, and there is no shortage of work."

Barrett has called Piper's decision political and could cost the county a lot more in settlements and defense funds.

"I can only speak for myself when I say I believe it is the last resort to take legal action, but I have to keep a roof over my family's head," Barrett said. "I would much rather work for what I receive."

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Tags: Government & News & Crime

  1. report print email
    no shortage of work???
    April 01, 2013 | 04:38 PM

    i find this statement very hard to believe. pulling folks over for dim or tag lights burned out doesnt count as work. if you got laid off that sucks, but suck it up and hit the job hunt like the rest of us.

    Henry Rollins
  2. report print email
    government employees
    April 01, 2013 | 07:53 PM

    This is typical of what's wrong with this country...the government makes a decision to save the taxpayer belongs to us remember, and those who survive off the teat of the taxpayer sue to get "what's owed them." Sorry, but your mother should have told you that no one owes you anything.

  3. report print email
    April 02, 2013 | 11:25 PM

    Well said Henry!
    About time somebody got the good ole boys out of here.

  4. report print email
    Lay off
    April 02, 2013 | 11:28 PM

    I love how in his letter to the newspaper he makes sure to point out that Piper's son applied for an entry level jailor position. A captain and a jailor are very different, I doubt he wouldve demoted himself to entry level jailor.

    Brooke Whitehead
  5. report print email
    Sick and Tired
    April 03, 2013 | 10:58 AM

    You people that have commented make me sick! You don't know Capt Barrett at all. You don't know that he is also a tax payer and so is his HUGE family. So the tax money is just as much his as yours. He has worked his way up the ladder just like anyone else in the S.O. You don't realize that when he knocks on a door to serve a warrant that he as well as his co workers take their life into their hands to get the bad guys off the street, that bad guy just sold drugs to your relative or stole something from you or your neighbor, or molested someone you know, or when the S.O. pulls someone over because they are breaking the law, they are here to serve and protect you as well as me and my family. This man is as honest as they get! He has served our Country as well as our County and is a man of Faith. He would have proudly took a demotion to keep a job and food on the table just like anyone else. Don't jump to conclusions! He is fighting for what he believes in and if you were put in that position, you would too! I'm so sick and tired of hearing "I'm a tax payer and you owe me"... have you ever stopped to think that that person you are talking to is also a tax payer in this county? You don't think that that person that works for the county has also thought or said to upper management or a commissioner, a concern as a tax payer? We are ALL taxpayers in this county or whatever county we live in... DAH

  6. report print email
    Kelly, you're misinformed
    April 04, 2013 | 08:24 AM

    Kelly, i'm pretty sure nobody's taken a shot at the man personally, but there's too many police and not enough to do. life isnt fair and if you lose your job, its time to put on your big boy pants and find another. nobody is guaranteed anything in life. why doesnt he try to get a job with the Atlanta PD or maybe Alpharetta? probly because he'd rather work in Forsyth where major crime is minimal compared to Atlanta or even Roswell. nice try though...

    Henry Rollins
  7. report print email
    Harsh Realities
    April 05, 2013 | 07:30 PM

    First, as a Forsyth citizen I genuinely appreciate officers who faithfully serve/have served this county. I feel very badly for those 11 employees - just as I do for anyone who has been laid off in this horrible economy. I can't speak to civil service procedures mentioned in Captain Barrett's letter however the truth is that reducing middle management and restructuring an organization for efficiency is a very common way companies and municipalities survive bad economic conditions. A position being eliminated doesn't necessarily mean that the person who held it was not a good & loyal employee. Not giving advance notice is typically the way employers handle a RIF and there are a good reasons for doing so. Hopefully in lieu of notice these folks were given some sort of severance pay. These harsh realities are a lot to swallow when you’ve served an employer with dedication for as long as Capt Barrett. Nothing in Capt Barrett's letter indicates why he views these RIFs as being personal and politically motivated so I have no reason to believe that Sheriff Piper’s reorganization was anything less than trying to be fiscally responsible. That I applaud. Unfortunately where Sheriff Piper’s actions may have gone seriously wrong, if the letter is accurate, is in the execution of his decision. As a leader, Sheriff Piper should have been present for the terminations and faced the very people whose lives were affected by his decision. It's hard but it's what a good leader does. All 11 deserved to be treated with the utmost dignity and it sounds to me as if that’s not what happened. Unfortunately, this treatment of employees in similar circumstances is common and it’s also what often motivates people to file EEOC charges and lawsuits. Here’s another harsh reality - even if the employer wins, they lose in terms of legal expenses and damage to morale of employees who realize how callously their former coworkers were treated.

  8. report print email
    Overdue for Barrett
    April 08, 2013 | 07:52 AM

    I don't know about the others & who they are but I can witness a time in uniform that I've asked for help and was brutally attacked from lack of the officer not doing his job .

  9. report print email
    April 10, 2013 | 10:46 PM

    His wife has just got a job on with the newly elected Corenor. I don't know if I care for him or not. If Barrett ever locked anyone up for a traffic violation he needs to loose his job. So should others. I believe anyone gets what they deserve in time. Using his authority to lock people up for driving is a problem. I saw a couple of road blocks latly. Not funny for my wife waiting in line for 15 minutes. Eddie Good Knight

    Eddie Knight
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