SUPERIOR – Shortly after his graduation from the Montana Law Enforcement Academy, December 13, Deputy Tim Case tendered his resignation from the Mineral County Sheriff’s Office.
Up until his resignation took effect December 16, Case had been the county’s misdemeanor probation officer and worked with the court to ensure people followed the rules of their probation. The sudden departure has left a hole in the sheriff’s office personnel, which required an immediate solution. At the County Commissioner’s meeting Friday, Sheriff Ernie Ornelas talked with the commissioners about how to handle the situation.
“We want to throw it around and see how we want to [handle] that,” said Ornelas.
Also in attendance at the meeting were Undersheriff Mike Boone, County Attorney Marcia Boris and Adam Cole, a court investigator who had taken over the probation officer’s duties after Case’s resignation.
One aspect of the situation, which needed to be discussed, was whether the probation officer would remain part of the sheriff’s office. Originally, the position was part of the county’s court system. Ornelas explained how the county commissioners decided to see how it would work to move it to the sheriff’s office.
The move was given a one-year trial to see how well it would work. Case’s resignation came at approximately six months into the trial.
It was suggested for the commissioners to have Cole take over the position entirely, rather than have a search for someone new. Boris liked this idea and felt Cole would be able to do the job of the probation office as well as his duties in her office. However, she did not feel the role of probation officer should be handled with her as the supervisor.
“I don’t believe it would be appropriate for his duties as a misdemeanor probation officer to be under my supervision,” said Boris. “Often I’m on the other side of that argument, saying ‘I don’t think this is a safe person.’ I don’t think the person making that decision should be under my supervision.”
It was also mentioned how it would save the county money to appoint Cole to the probation officer’s position. Because he is already certified for the duties, there would be no need to send someone to the academy. This was doubly beneficial because, according to Cole, the academy no longer takes students for probation duties.
Cole was confident he would be able to perform the duties with very little overtime hours. He felt he could work the schedule of probationary tasks around his investigative duties so he could have time for both in his work week.
Boris was very supportive of the change. She did not feel Cole would take on a new position if he became the new probation officer. This was more a situation where his current job was expanded to fill the gap left by Case.
“I would equate it to individuals taking on additional responsibilities as a deputy clerk, or something along those lines,” said Boris.
However, Cole did request the commissioners give him a pay raise. He argued how he would need to do the work of two people if he took on the additional work as probation officer.
The commissioners unanimously approved Cole’s appointment as the misdemeanor probation officer on a trial basis. Cole will perform the duties for six months before a reevaluation is done at the end of the fiscal year. The trial period began Monday, December 23.