For­mer jail com­man­der files griev­ance

More de­tailed com­plaint filed in or­der to get hear­ing

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - TOM SISSOM

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,

Miller said.

“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.”

Hahn

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