Commission Asks Sheriff Doolen to Make Policy Change

The difficulty Hardeman County Sheriff John Doolen has described in keeping staff got more difficult at the March 21 meeting of the county commission when the sheriff was asked to stop the practice of allowing sheriff’s deputies to take a patrol car home if they live outside the county. The request, in the form of a non-binding resolution, was passed 14 votes for and one against, as only commissioner Bobby Wright voted no. Commissioner Mac Vaughn was not present at the meeting.
The already-in-place practice of allowing officers who live in the county to take their patrol cars home was not a part of the discussion.
While it is true the resolution that was passed by the county commission cannot force the sheriff to change the policy, Doolen said the vote was not helpful in his efforts to keep staff happy.
“This is something we do for our underpaid staff,” said Doolen in protesting the resolution. Doolen, who estimates four officers could be affected by this move, said the county is already having trouble keeping officers as the City of Bolivar and surrounding counties offer more pay to deputies.
Doolen said an incoming officer starts at $27,000 a year, or $30,000 dollars a year if they have graduated from the academy, which is in some cases more than $10,000 less than is being offered to start at other places.
None of the resolutions considered or passed by the commission are legally binding to the sheriff’s office as the county commission controls the budget, but not the policies the sheriff’s department uses.
When asked if he intended to honor the commission’s resolution, Doolen had no comment.