Seward County Commissioners said no to a request to create a new job in the sheriff’s office for non-certified staff on Dec. 31. Then, on Jan. 8, the board approved the position with a few tweaks.

At the board’s Dec. 31 meeting, commissioners discussed adding a non-law enforcement certified task force commander position.

The board first went into executive session to discuss the matter with Captain Paul Vyhlidal and Operations Manager Chelsea Smith of the Seward County Sheriff’s Department and County Human Resources Director Brea Ehmen.

“The sheriff’s department is looking to slightly restructure and remodify the department,” Ehmen said. 

According to the job description, the task force commander would be responsible for coordinating and supervising all training, completing paperwork included in illegal narcotics/currency proceedings and making sure task force members are prepared for court cases, among other things.

Commissioner Ken Schmieding voiced concern over the timing of the role with the dismissal of a captain as of midnight Jan. 2, but did not specify a name.

Kendel Blake Swicord faced dismissal from the sheriff’s department when he was unable to obtain certification as an officer in the state of Nebraska.

However, Swicord instead resigned Jan. 2.

Swicord had one year from his hire date on Jan. 3, 2019, to become certified in Nebraska after moving here from Georgia.

His Nebraska certification was denied by the Nebraska Law Enforcement Training Center because he allegedly lied on the application, stating he had never been arrested.

According to an incident report from the Baldwin County, Georgia, Sheriff’s Office, Swicord was arrested because of a domestic dispute in January 2018, but was never charged.

“I’m not in favor of creating a position in just two days,” Schmieding said. “We’re moving awful fast on such a position.”

Schmieding made a motion to table the discussion for a week, but the motion was denied with "no" votes from commissioners Becky Paulsen and John Culver. Bob Vrbka and Schmieding voted "yes." Commissioner Mike Mundhenke was absent.

Paulsen then made a motion to deny the new job description, with her, Vrbka and Schmieding voting in favor of the denial and Culver voting against.

Ultimately, the position was denied by commissioners because of lack of information and research given and concern that the role was unnecessary.

However, at its Jan. 8 meeting, the board approved a job description for a Temporary Interdiction Task Force Consultant/Trainer for a period of six months.

According to minutes from the Dec. 31 meeting, County Attorney Wendy Elston said temporary employees do not receive benefits, which was not Sheriff Mike Vance's intention in creating the position.

Ehmen said a temporary position, according to the personnel manual, cannot be for more than one year.

Vrbka said he thought the word "commander" in the initial job description should be replaced. "Consultant/Trainer" is the wording on the description the board approved.


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