Corrections officers’ vote shows no confidence in jail chief

A large majority of metro Louisville corrections officers cast “no confidence” votes this week against outgoing Corrections Director Tom Campbell

In a largely symbolic vote, the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 77, which represents 442 jail officers, said they no longer have confidence in Campbell’s “ability to lead, manage and direct the activities of this agency,” lodge president Tony Harris said.

Campbell declined to comment on the vote, but a spokesman for Mayor Jerry Abramson said the administration remains supportive of the corrections chief, who plans to retire Sept. 30.

Abramson named Campbell to the job in February 2005, bringing him out of retirement. Spokeswoman Kerri Richardson said Abramson believes Campbell “has treated all employees fairly. He has done an outstanding job, and we are very pleased with the improvements he has made at the jail.”

Harris said in an interview yesterday that 213 jail guards cast ballots at Swiss Hall on Monday, with 95 percent saying they have no confidence in Campbell. He said the low turnout was due largely to vacations and problems getting downtown to vote, not a lack of interest in the matter.

He noted that only 156 members voted when the lodge elected officers last November.

In a news release after the vote, the union accused Campbell of being indifferent to the well-being of officers and of “blatantly disregarding” complaints from lodge members about “the harassing atmosphere” that they allege Campbell’s top deputy, Kevin Sidebottom, created.

Sidebottom said recently that he will retire Sept. 15. Corrections workers have filed at least six complaints against him, including at least one allegation of sexual harassment.

Messages left for Sidebottom last night were not immediately returned.

Harris said yesterday that the union is asking Abramson to include a union representative on any committee that interviews candidates to succeed Campbell as director. The union prefers a successor be picked from the existing corrections staff, he said.

Richardson said the administration is still reviewing the process to be used in selecting a new corrections chief. But she said, “As soon as we help them pick their union president, we’d be happy to let them pick the new jail director.”

She said Abramson already has received about a dozen applications for Campbell’s job. She said the mayor hasn’t ruled out picking someone now on the staff, but won’t rush the choice.

She declined to comment on Sidebottom’s performance but said that after discussing the complaints filed against him, Sidebottom and Campbell decided it was impossible for him to continue as deputy director.

Both Richardson and corrections spokeswoman Pam Windsor noted that corrections officials and the administration can’t comment on cases that the FOP lodge has filed with the metro human resources department.

source: http://www.courier-journal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080827/NEWS01/808270799/1008/rss01

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