Union votes no confidence in Boyer

On Tuesday, Nov. 6, 82 percent of members of the Kitsap County Deputy Sheriffs’ Guild voted no confidence in the leadership and administration of Sheriff Steve Boyer.

“He’s a nice guy and we like him,” said Detective Mike Rodrigue, president of the guild. “We just want him to be the leader we know he can be.”

Guild members said their discontent with the Boyer administration stems primarily from poor communication among deputies and managers. Members of the guild expressed their grievances in a letter dated Nov. 6.

“The vote of no-confidence was issued to show Sheriff Boyer that it’s not just a few employees or the guild board that has an issue with the administration. It’s his entire staff,” Rodrigue said. “We wanted to get his attention, to let him know there is a problem so that we can work together to solve it.”

Boyer declined to comment Thursday, saying only that negotiations between the guild and the administration are ongoing.

Undersheriff Dennis Bonneville said talks between the guild and management are headed in a positive direction.

“We’ve been making great strides toward getting some of these communications issues straightened out, and we are optimistic about the future,” Bonneville said. “We are expecting that this can be resolved and that the agency will end up stronger than it is now.”

The letter details five issues that trouble guild members:

• Many deputies believe that the sheriff and his administration have been untruthful or deceptive concerning shift schedules, official grievances, state mandates and probation periods for deputies.

• The letter alleged the sheriff and his administration have failed to comply with established policies and the collective bargaining agreement. The deputies accused the sheriff of not meeting timelines for collision review boards, not bargaining when necessary and not negotiating when an agreement was made to do so.

• The guild accused Boyer and Bonneville of a lack of trust and confidence in their employees. Deputies pointed to a policy pertaining to how deputies may wear baseball caps, accused managers of commandeering duties otherwise performed by supervisors and said Boyer and Bonneville openly questioned whether eligible sergeants would make good lieutenants.

• Boyer doesn’t communicate effectively with his staff, according to the guild letter. Deputies accused the sheriff of inaction on some morale issues and said he has shown a lack of interest in discussing potential policy changes with the guild for input.

• The guild accuses the administration of making disparaging comments regarding the weight of some deputies. In one instance, Bonneville is accused of having said the department would not hire any “fat bastards” as deputies.

Rodrigue confirmed that guild members and the administration are working to resolve the problems.

“There have been great meetings and we’re moving down a positive path,” Rodrigue said. “We are encouraged and pleased.

“This has all just been a communications gap,” Rodrigue added. “The vote wasn’t about trying to boot Boyer.”

The guild president said he was worried about how the public will perceive the discussions. Boyer’s office released the guild’s letter and other correspondence in response to public disclosure requests last week.

“We didn’t want this broadcast because we are afraid that it’s not going to reflect positively on the department,” Rodrigue said. “At no time has public safety been an issue. We are going to continue to work hard for the public, which is what the public deserves.”

According to the letter, “The vote was taken with no personal or political prejudice. It is submitted in the hope that you will acknowledge issues that have been brought before you and now act on them decisively and in a timely manner. We intend to support you in these efforts because we truly want you to succeed in bringing this agency to the highest level of efficiency and professionalism.”

The guild asked Boyer to submit within 14 days a plan for addressing the concerns listed and a plan of action for the agency.

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