By LeaAnne Klentzman
A young detention officer prevails in the first ever Fort Bend Civil Service Commission hearing.
In June of this year, Fort Bend county jailer/detention Officer Steven Redmon was terminated. While listening to all the testimony before the Civil Service Commission, it was unclear if any of the sheriff’s employees knew why Redmon was terminated, but he was none the less.
In a hearing that began at 9 am on Wednesday morning October 3, 2012 and lasted until 1 pm, that afternoon, Steven Redmon sat beside his Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas (CLEAT) attorney Bob Thomas as the sheriff’s office paraded one witness after another to tell of the violations committed by the young jailer. As testimony went on and on, it became clear that the young man had made some of the administration’s trustees angry.
Detention officer took mattresses
On the day Redmon’s career took a side track, he was assigned to the Trustee Tank. After shift briefing, he went into the 56-man cell block and began to enforce the rules of the facility; namely one mattress per inmate unless medially sanctioned or approved by an administrator.
One by one Redmon’s line of command came in and testified against him. First up was his corporal. She said he was a good employee. However, she was ordered to counsel with him because he removed mattresses from trustees and separated one who got belligerent during the process. She testified that she was instructed to counsel him and have him sign a written document prepared by her supervisor of the incident.
According to testimony, Redmon did not want to sign the write-up. He told his corporal that some of the information included in the disciplinary document was not correct. She testified that she told him if he did not sign, he would be removed from the building. She also testified that she told him he would write “refused to sign.” She said Redmon wrote on the document, “I respectfully refuse to sign this because some of the facts are not correct.” She testified that the document was compiled by her supervisors, and she was ordered to have him sign it.
Officer refused to sign
The corporal’s testimony was followed by a sergeant who also acknowledged that Redmon would not sign the document. The sergeant said, “He (Redmon) should have never gone into that Trustee Tank and messed with them.” He said Redmon was disciplined for “failure to follow rules and failure to conform to policy.” He further testified that normally Redmon was a good employee. As this incident ground to an end, the sergeant took Redmon’s badge and identification and had the corporal remove him from the building. The sergeant said a signature on the document was not an admission of guilt, merely an acknowledgement of the counseling, explaining that a verbal counseling as the first step in the department’s disciplinary actions.
When the sergeant took 22-year-old Steven Redmon’s badge and ID, he told him to report to the major’s office the following morning at 8:30. Several hours more of testimony was offered about mattresses and trustees and in the end the lieutenant and the major both testified against the young officer.
Inmates run the jail
Lieutenant John Font, who in fact is paid as a deputy but acts as a lieutenant, testified that after he got a phone call from Redmon about the trustees having more than one mattress, he headed that way in the jail. Font said while he was walking to the area he passed an inmate and pulled that inmate into an office and got the inmate’s side of the story before approaching Officer Redmon.
Font further testified that “The trustees felt Redmon was picking on them.” Font said, “Trustees are responsible for the actions in the jail. Personnel are just there to supervise the inmates running the jail.” Font went on to say, “After he (Redmon) refused to sign the document, he (Font) had the sergeant take his badge and ID and advise him to be in the major’s office in the morning.”
Font said he did not believe what Redmon said about the incident; however Font revealed information about the inmate that cannot be printed in the paper. Font testified it was the policy of the sheriff’s office to relieve someone when they refused to sign, then he said, “Well, actually there is no policy but (it is) standard procedure.” Font said Redmon was fired for moving an inmate without supervisor’s approval, taking trustee’s mattresses, and refusing to sign the discipline form.
Major went through document line per line
Major Jimmy Leach testified that Steven Redmon told him there were inaccuracies in the report and that is why he refused to sign. So Major Leach testified that he went through the document line by line with Redmon who said it was all correct. Leach testified that it was not written in policy that an employee must sign. He then testified that before he fired Redmon he and Captain Jackson, and Captain Rowland all met with Redmon for well over an hour, and he still was refusing to sign. Major Leach testified he fired Redmon because, “He (Redmon) refused to obey command, the way he (Redmon) talked to others and plus he (Leach) reviewed his file.” Major Leach also testified that he called Officer Redmon “Lawyer Dagget” because he talked more like a lawyer than he did an officer.
Never during any of the testimony could any of the officers say just exactly how many mattresses could any one inmate have. The law states that they must be provided at least one; however, it does not preclude more than one.
In closing statements by the county’s attorney representing the sheriff’s office, he said this termination was not about mattress policy but about the policy violation of moving an inmate without a supervisor’s permission. Why was he fired, asked the county’s attorney? It was about his attitude; he was disrespectful.
In his closing arguments CLEAT attorney Bob Thomas who represented Steven Redmon said this is a textbook case for Civil Service and exemplifies the why it is so very important to both the employees and the citizens of Fort Bend County.
Thomas said, “This termination was a total overreach by the major and a failure to follow their own policy and procedure. They bypassed many of their own disciplinary orders.” Thomas went on to say that referring to the young detention officer as Lawyer Daggett was unacceptable.
After a closed session the Civil Service Commission voted to reinstate Steven Redmon with a written reprimand. However, they declined to give him back pay.
Redmon was out of work from June 24, 2012 until his reinstatement on October 14, 2012, the next payroll opening.