Former jail commander files grievance
More detailed complaint filed in order to get hearing
BENTONVILLE — Lynn Hahn, the former Benton County Jail commander who was fired Dec. 30, has filed a more detailed complaint in his bid for a grievance hearing.
Hahn filed an initial request for a hearing Jan. 5. He sought reinstatement to his job and a hearing to clear his name. That request was denied without prejudice by county officials. George Spence, county attorney, said Hahn’s first request “only makes summary allegations” and “fails to state a factual basis for a hearing.”
“If you want a hearing, you will need to tell us how the termination of your employment violates county policy or the Constitution,” Spence wrote in a letter sent to Hahn on Monday. “As to your request for a name clearing hearing, you will need to tell us how you have been the subject of a stigmatizing charge.”
Hahn had three working days to refile his grievance. He did so Thursday through his attorney, Drew Miller of Rogers.
Miller said in his letter Hahn’s dismissal “was a completely arbitrary decision” not related to any legitimate governmental objective of the county. Deputy sheriffs have wide discretion in carrying out their duties under state l aw,
“The termination letter from the employment of the Benton County Sheriff’s Office vaguely references ‘recent events’ that caused a loss in confidence in Mr. Hahn’s ability to perform his duties as Benton County Jail Commander,” Miller wrote. “Mr. Hahn followed the letter of the law and any written policies and procedures applicable to his duties. In the absence of official policies and procedures, Mr. Hahn exercised his discretion to fulfill his responsibilities, as was well within his purview as a deputy sheriff under Arkansas law.”
Miller also argues the county didn’t follow its policies regarding disciplinary action for employees in Hahn’s case. The county’s policy provides for progressive disciplinary action ranging from verbal warnings to written warning to suspension with or without pay and then termination, according to Miller’s letter.
“No action was taken by Mr. Hahn’s superiors to correct a problem, prevent it
from happening again and prepare Mr. Hahn for satisfactory performance in the future,” Miller wrote.
Spence said he wouldn’t comment on the details of the new grievance. County officials are working to set a date for a hearing before the county’s Grievance Council within the next two weeks, he said.
Sheriff Shawn Holloway confirmed Hahn, who held the rank of captain and jail commander, was fired.
Holloway wasn’t the sheriff when Hahn was fired Dec. 30, but Holloway served as chief deputy for the Sheriff ’ s Office. Holloway was sworn in shortly after midnight Jan. 1.
Holloway declined to give reasons for Hahn’s termination, citing an ongoing investigation concerning Hahn. Holloway said he wants to review the investigation to determine if firing was the right decision.
Miller said Holloway’s confirmation of an investigation of Hahn “constitutes ‘a stigmatizing event’ publicly communicated by a county official.”