LISBON - A grievance has been filed against the sheriff by one of his deputies for writing traffic tickets.
The grievance filed last week alleges Columbiana County Sheriff Ray Stone was running radar, making traffic stops, and issuing citations and warnings on at least four occasions during the past month, all in violation of the union contract.
"We consider this bargaining unit work," wrote Deputy Wes Smith, who filed the grievance.
Stone admits writing traffic tickets but intends to deny the grievance because he sees it as an illegal infringement on his ability to function as sheriff, noting state law gives him broad powers, including the power to arrest.
"I'm not giving up any of my powers of arrest. That's what I'm elected to do," he said.
Stone had taken it upon himself to patrol Salineville during the period the village was without a police chief and officers, and sometimes this includes watching for speeders outside of town at the Southern Local school complex on state Route 39.
"I've been running radar in the school zone for the past couple of weeks," he said.
According to the grievance, Stone did this on April 3 and possibly on March 12, 14 and 15 as well. The grievance alleges this was done in violation of a union contract provision requiring such work be done by deputies since they are bargaining unit members, and for the sheriff to perform these duties takes work away from them.
"I'm apparently the only sheriff in 88 counties who can't transport prisoners, and now they're trying to make me the only sheriff who can't make an arrest," he said. "I dont think they want me to leave the office."
Stone was referring to a grievance filed against his predecessor, former Sheriff David Smith, over his use of a private company to return arrestees to the county who were captured in other states. An arbitrator ruled this violated the contract, which requires such work be done by deputies. The arbitrator said his ruling also applied to the sheriff, who is not allowed to transport prisoners even if he was the one who made the arrest.
This particular provision was included in the original contract negotiated when the sheriff's office employees first voted to unionize in the 1980s, and it has been a sore spot with every sheriff since. Other grievances have been filed under this provision after the sheriff transported someone he had just arrested and for taking complaints directly from citizens and then typing up reports.
The grievance was filed as a group complaint, which means other deputies who signed on to the grievance will be entitled to compensation should the arbitrator rule in their favor.
Chief Deputy Allen Haueter was disappointed to see the first two deputies to sign up were two sergeants, both union members who also serve as shift supervisors.
"It's nice to see our middle managers standing up for us. They're supposed be our supervisors ... and they're the first ones to sign up," he said, adding that none of the other supervisors who are members of the union signed up for compensation.