Vu All Over Again,
Guider Fires Shirk
|In August of 2005, citing
various reasons, Sheriff Tim Guider, fired Captain Bill Shirk. Captain
Shirk, disputing Guiders claims, hired an attorney and appealed his
dismissal to the Sheriff's Merit Board. Shirk was ultimately reinstated
to his former position as Guider said, "as
if your termination had never happened"
with full back pay and all legal fees paid by the county. Nearly two
years later, seems that lightening may have struck twice.
Last Friday, citing various reasons, Sheriff Tim Guider , fired Captain Bill Shirk. Captain Shirk, disputing Guiders claims, has hired an attorney and and plans to appeal his dismissal to the Sheriff's Merit Board. will history repeat it's self?
One county official stated that
"with all the things going on down there, it's more like a soap opera
than a sheriff's office."
Below are two articles from 2005 from the Loudon County News-Herald on the previous firing.
By: Ben Greene
Source: Loudon County News-Herald 09-14-2005
Bill Shirk said he believes discrimination and corruption are behind his recent termination from the Loudon County Sheriff’s Department, while Sheriff Tim Guider maintains the decision is a reflection of choosing what’s best for the department.
Guider said he made the decision because of "unsatisfactory job performance" in three areas: mistreatment of inmates, improper behavior toward other employees and the risk of losing the jail’s certification with the state because of poor management.
Shirk said those reasons are a smokescreen; he claims the real reason is Shirk wouldn’t overlook corruption in the department. Of Guider, Shirk said, "He supports dishonest people, [that’s] all I can say for him."
That unwillingness to go along with alleged corruption, Shirk said, is also behind what he called a demotion earlier this year from his position as administrative captain after 24 years on the force. That position was third in command of the sheriff’s department, Shirk said.
According to Guider, Shirk wasn’t demoted, he simply became fourth in command but didn’t lose rank or pay with the change.
Noting "there’s incredible things here," Guider examined a thick stack of inmate grievance forms in an interview last week with the News-Herald.
"The jail was going down the tubes," Guider said, noting female inmates were allegedly denied feminine hygiene products while other inmates were allegedly denied basic necessities such as fingernail clippers and other hygiene items. Guider said for a time, Shirk put rules in place preventing the disbursement of hygiene products during second and third shift.
In a termination letter the sheriff hand delivered, Guider acknowledged their long-time friendship and his respect for Shirk while saying it "can no longer be tolerated" that the former jail administrator disregarded officer and inmate safety, violated state regulations, management directives and the general operation of the jail.
In regard to jail regulations set by the state, Guider said Shirk allowed inmates arrested on sex offense charges to share cell blocks with inmates arrested on other types of offenses — something state law doesn’t allow, Guider said. Those type of actions, Guider noted, put the county at risk for lawsuits from inmates.
When it came to employees, specifically jail employees, Guider said a recent meeting with 12 of the jail deputies highlighted the major problems allegedly created by Shirk. In that meeting, which the sheriff noted was requested by the employees, Guider said employees told him "it was a hostile work environment" where they could not do anything to satisfy Shirk.
Guider said that not only the jailers but he and other deputies had struggled to be able to communicate with Shirk."You could see a difference in Bill’s demeanor" in recent months, and even years, Guider explained. The sheriff said Shirk was often standoffish, believing only his opinions were right. "When you can’t communicate with your people, you’re not effective," Guider said.
Shirk, Guider said, often made comments "that just shouldn’t be said" including allegedly inappropriate comments to female employees.
Finally, Guider explained the jail was at risk for being decertified by the state, meaning a likely loss of state funding. He said the Tennessee Corrections Institute has inspectors who routinely evaluate the condition of jails and, Guider said, a March inspection found safety and health violations for inmates and jailers. By August, Guider said the violations still hadn’t been addressed by Shirk. Guider said Shirk told him at the time he was working on it. Shirk was named jail administrator Feb. 1 of this year.
He said Shirk often made significant decisions without Guider’s knowledge and these actions damaged relationships in the department as well as with other departments.
But Shirk still takes aim at Guider’s leadership: "He doesn’t have any control over his department," Shirk said.
"I’ve been discriminated against, I’ve been singled out," Shirk said, noting he was asked to leave a mandatory department meeting before Chief Deputy Tony Aikens’ most recent indictment. He said Aikens told him "You’re excused from this meeting, you can go back to work." Shirk said Aikens was running the meeting and the sheriff was present.
"[Aikens] runs everything, the sheriff was standing there but … he doesn’t run things," Shirk said.
Guider disagrees, noting "I made the decision" to fire Shirk. Further, Guider said "Tony Aikens didn’t have a thing to do with [the firing]," which had been "building" for months now.
Guider explained Aikens runs the day-to day operations of the department because of his job description as chief deputy, something Aikens confirmed in a separate interview Monday. Both men said the sheriff has final say on departmental decisions and Aikens said he doesn’t do anything the sheriff doesn’t know about.
Guider added he has no evidence any of his employees are corrupt or doing improper things. "He can have his opinions on corruption," Guider said. "I can assure the people of Loudon County that I am not going to tolerate corruption as he is insinuating."
Shirk claimed, "I feel that they’ve tried to force me out since I don’t support corruption."
He continued, "[Guider’s] got four people up there that’s been indicted by grand juries and they’re still working. He’s got one person that’s been indicted twice by 24 citizens of Loudon County [who] have seen enough evidence there to prosecute him over and he continues to let him work."
Although four officers have been indicted, two of the cases have been dismissed and to date there have been no convictions in the pending cases.
"I’ve never been written up," stressed Shirk, "I’ve never been given time off and sure, we’ve had our discussions."
Guider confirmed he had never disciplined Shirk formally but said there had been conversations, which should have been sufficient to improve Shirk’s job performance. There was no improvement, Guider said.
Of the indictments’ legitimacy, Guider reiterated his previous remarks — "They’re invalid, they’re ludicrous."
Shirk said he told Guider he wanted copies of everything in his files in his former office and Guider responded they would be there when he came back for them — with a subpoena. "He said I’d have to have a subpoena to get them," Shirk explained.
Specifically, Shirk said he had maintained a file on sheriff’s department employees and their activities, some of which he alleged were questionable and unethical. When asked if the files showed illegal activities by sheriff’s department employees, Shirk said, "Not what I had down there [in Shirk’s office]."
"My files that I kept personally, he wouldn’t let me take [any] of those," Shirk said. Guider said the reason is because all of those files were on county letterhead and were the property of the county.
To his knowledge, Guider said they didn’t contain any information about the activities of employees, rather they were mostly requisitions for jail supplies and other common administrative documents.
Shirk offered no comment when asked how he planned to respond to his termination. So far, he said has not received any severance package.
In the termination letter Guider noted the firing was the most difficult decision he has made since becoming sheriff.
"It did not have to be this way. Bill, good luck to you and may God bless you," Guider’s letter concludes.
However, Guider said, as much as it hurt him to make the decision, he still believes his decision will improve the department’s operation.
However, Shirk said Guider’s leadership has hurt the sheriff’s department. "Right now, the sheriff’s department, they’re the laughing stock of the state."
"And he refuses to do anything about it," Shirk said.
Sheriff reinstates previously fired officer
By: Mark Hudson
Source: Loudon County News-Herald 12-12-2005
Captain Bill Shirk, the sheriff’s department employee who was terminated Sept. 2 for what Loudon County Sheriff Tim Guider called "unsatisfactory job performance," has been reinstated to his previous position and offered back pay and benefits compensation for the more than three months he was off the job.
In a letter sent to Shirk’s attorney David Wigler Thursday afternoon, Guider cited Shirk’s appeal to the Loudon County Merit Service Board and the inability of each side’s lawyers to reach "an amicable conclusion" as his basis for rescinding the termination.
In a Dec. 9 press release, Guider said, "in attempting to comply with Captain Shirk’s [Merit Service board] request, it became apparent that the Merit Service Board had not had any reason to hold hearings for several years." The release also states the board’s rules and regulations "had not been updated in over 14 years."
Based on these circumstances, Guider’s press release states, "I felt that it was not possible to have a fair hearing for Captain Shirk … and that reinstatement was appropriate."
The release continues, indicating Guider’s intention to seek "revisions and/or amendments to the rules and regulations" to make them more current. These revisions are also intended to ensure "every officer is fairly advised of the regulations concerning matters that may require Merit Service board review."
Under the agreement, Shirk will resume his duties "effective Monday, Dec. 12" and will be issued back pay "from Sept. 2 until you resume work on Dec. 12." Shirk will also receive "retroactive credit" for benefits since Sept. 2, the document noted.
Guider’s letter asks Shirk to "be assured that you will be returned to your former duties as if your termination had never happened."
When asked about the proposal sent to his client, Wigler said, "it’s been accepted, we’re very pleased." Wigler said he believed the outcome was "certainly a vindication for Bill Shirk."
In regard to the future working relationship between Guider and Shirk, both parties expressed a desire for things to go smoothly. Wigler said both he and his client were "very hopeful that everything works out fine." Guider said he looked forward to "a good working relationship. I’m going to do my part, and I hope that he does his part."