Sheriff says memo was move to 'protect' daughter

Friday, November 5, 2010

Marshall County's Sheriff has apologized for "harsh language" in a memo he issued last week when his "emotions" got the best of him while protecting his daughter.

At least two employees at the Marshall County Sheriff's Department have said a dispatcher was promoted to be a road deputy because he's dating the sheriff's daughter and that office talk is interpreted by the sheriff as contrary to department directives against speaking "about each other in a negative way."

Sheriff Norman Dalton on Wednesday afternoon confirmed that last week he issued a memo to employees advising that the dispatcher Drew Binkley was promoted "because of his hard work, dedication and (five) years of service not because he is (dating) the sheriff's daughter. If any of you disagree, come see me."

Among Dalton's reasons for issuing the memo is a motive known by parents: "a dad trying to protect his daughter," Dalton agreed.

At least one employee took the initiative to meet with Dalton and confess his poor choice of comments, the sheriff said.

That employee "apologized and we let bygones be bygones," Dalton said.

However, the wording used in the sheriff's memo distributed to officers during roll call was "harsh," Dalton said in an apology issued this week. He said he's now sensitive to "the way this came across to some," referring to his use of language.

"I'm very direct," Dalton said.

Furthermore, his memo was issued as a "preventative" measure that might reduce his need to use a policy that permits dismissal for "publicly criticizing any official decision or policy...

"I am sorry for the way the memo sounded, but on my first day as sheriff, I met with all employees and advised them that I would not tolerate employees talking about each other in a negative way either in private or in public," Dalton said. "This memo was just to try to keep rumors down, noting how 'some' employees think Deputy Binkley was assigned to his position."

Dalton's memo to employees concluded that those who test him could face dismissal.

The sheriff's daughter, Amanda Newcomb, is a Lewisburg Police officer who's been working on the night shift.