A sheriff's detective alleges county officials violated his employment rights by retaliating and discriminating based on race.
A Ford County Sheriff’s Office detective has filed a claim against the county alleging elected officials created a hostile work environment and discriminated and retaliated against him following investigations into his use of paid time and department equipment.
Timmey M. McClure is seeking $500,000 to compensate for emotional distress and damage to his professional reputation caused by disciplinary actions taken against him for driving a county-owned vehicle to Wichita for personal use, according to a letter sent by McClure’s attorney.
McClure is also currently under investigation by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, Ford County Attorney Natalie Randall confirmed, though said she could not discuss the details or scope of the investigation or whether it is related to information contained in McClure’s tort claim.
A second letter prepared by McClure’s attorney and filed with the Kansas Human Rights Commission alleges county officials retaliated against the detective and discriminated on the basis of his race starting in February. In the same packet received by the county clerk, a separate document claims the discrimination was based on national origin, not race. McClure, 39, is Hispanic.
When reached for comment, McClure deferred all questions to his attorney, Morgan Koon of Wichita, a former assistant prosecutor for Ford County. Koon could not be reached after two messages left on his voicemail over two days.
Sheriff Dean Bush, County Attorney Natalie Randall and the Ford County Commission are named in the notice of tort claim. Under state law, municipalities must be given 120 days to accept, settle or deny a claim before a lawsuit can be filed by the complainant.
None of the named officials would speak on the issue citing ongoing discussions, employment privacy laws and potential litigation. Allen Glendenning, the attorney representing the county, could not be reached for comment, Thursday.
In the letters, McClure said use of county vehicles for personal use has been allowed in the department. In the past he had personally paid for any gasoline used, he said. For the trip to Wichita, however, he could not provide receipts to support his claim, but stated that his actions were consistent with those which were previously allowed.
“There was a known history of me using my county vehicle for the trainings and teachings I conducted and attended,” McClure wrote, citing a conversation with Undersheriff James Lane in which Lane told McClure to make sure to reimburse the county for personal use of the vehicle.
McClure teaches courses and seminars to law enforcement professionals across the country on the topic of gangs, his area of expertise within the sheriff’s department.
Bush called for an internal investigation that discovered no violation of county policy, McClure said.
Following this, “Ms. Randall was not satisfied by the decision so she engaged the services of Ford County, Kansas, County Counselor Glenn Kerbs,” McClure wrote. Kerbs requested documentation on McClure’s usage of vacation days and other compensation time, McClure wrote.
“Mr. Kerbs found no violation of county policies by me. Mr. Kerbs presented his findings to Ms. Randall. Again, Ms. Randall was not satisfied with these findings,” McClure wrote.
That assertion is incorrect, Kerbs said when reached for comment, “though I would not call it an investigation,” but a review. Other than that, he said he was not at liberty to discuss other aspects of the matter due to ongoing legal action.
McClure wrote that a third investigation was commissioned by Bush, this time by former Ford County Sheriff’s Office investigator and law enforcement consultant Arlyn Leaming.
According to McClure, Leaming also found no violation.
Despite the three all-clears, McClure wrote, he was issued a written reprimand, a two-day suspension and no promotion in rank until April 1, 2015, for a violation of a policy pertaining to personal use of county property.
McClure had been identified as a strong candidate to replace one of the two captains retiring from the department next year, Bush said.
Disciplinary actions taken against public employees in Kansas are exempt from state open records laws, but McClure quotes text he attributes to the written reprimand.
The reprimand, as quoted, states that McClure admitted to a violation of county policy on April 8 regarding his use of a county-owned asset forfeiture vehicle for a trip to the Wichita airport in October, 2013, to fly to a teaching job.
“He also reports that his practice is to periodically pay for fuel for his assigned vehicle so that any personal activities he may tend to are not at the county’s expense. He further asserts that he completes work duties while not being clocked in to be more fair to the county,” McClure quoted from the reprimand.
McClure alleges violations of his employment rights, including his Garrity rights which protect public employees from compelled self-incrimination, and claims that Bush did not follow internal affairs investigation procedures.
McClure has worked for the sheriff’s department since 2005. Prior to that, he was employed by the Dodge City Police Department.