Before he took office, Scott County Sheriff Tim Lane identified building a command staff as his first priority.
Lane was given the OK for two chief deputy appointments by the Scott County Board of Supervisors during his first month so that both jail and sworn duties were taken care of. Previously, the department had only one chief deputy.
Now, the county Civil Service Commission has approved Lane' latest designs on implementing more changes by removing the captain's position from the civil division and making the position an appointed third chief deputy to help identify and select the best candidates for leadership.
Lane called the proposal a "change of extremes" because the captain's position was formerly filled by going through the promotion process, which is where some of the issues have stemmed.
"Deputies wanted promotion to be more than just taking a test," Lane said while adding they wanted the opportunity to speak on behalf of themselves to a board.
Regarding the captain's position, Lane said there were three lieutenants who could test for the position. But, one potential candidate has never wanted to be promoted while another was ineligible, giving Lane a list with a choice already made.
The appointment process would give Lane a larger pool to look at because the position could be filled from outside the rank of lieutenant while also looking at those who would not have been eligible under the current system.
At the moment, Lane said six internal candidates came to mind for the position, which he said he would like to fill internally and will serve as a division commander outside of the division pavilion in Eldridge.
Deputy Sheriffs Association representative Sean Thompson, who also is a sheriff's deputy, said the union was split on the proposal.
Thompson said out of the 34 members, 17 wanted the system to remain as is while 10 were in favor of the proposal, three were in favor as long as the appointment was internal and four were neutral.
For those against the proposal, Thompson said the overriding concern was that the position was being taken away from them.
Thompson said many deputies felt they have put in the hard work, taken the tests only to see opportunity for growth possibly gone.
One of the positives about the appointment process, though, is the ability to hold leadership accountable.
Lane said if a promoted person's leadership was weak, he would have to go to through a disciplinary board and prove so, which has been difficult historically.
If the position is appointed, Lane said the person would continue if effective, but if there needs to a change, he could return them to his or her previous rank.
Among union members, this was the main reason for support of Lane's proposal, Thompson said.
"The accountability was the Number 1 issue because we all know of somebody that should not have been promoted," Thompson said.
Lane's proposal still needs to go before the County Board of Supervisors, which will meet on April 4.
From the commission's point of view though, the proposal was well within reason to find the best leadership.
"It makes great sense because there has not been significant changes," Commissioner Randall Siemsen said.