Monroe County sheriff candidate not qualified for certification

Monroe County sheriff candidate not qualified for certification

July 21st, 2014 by The Knoxville News Sentinel in Local Regional News

NASHVILLE - Monroe County candidate for sheriff Randy White did not meet the requirements for police officer certification, the Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission voted unanimously Friday.

White won the nomination as Republican candidate for sheriff in the May primary and is on the ballot facing incumbent Sheriff Bill Bivens, a Democrat, in the August election. He didn't respond to requests for comment Friday.

The commission also voted unanimously to refer White's acceptance of a $600 training supplement and his failure to meet POST certification standards to the Monroe County Election Commission and to prosecutors.

The vote followed an investigation into White's status as a POST-certified officer after questions, including inquiries by the Knoxville News Sentinel, were raised about his employment at the Vonore Police Department. In order to run for sheriff, White, who works full time as the director of county emergency medical services, needed three years of full-time police work within the past 10 years to keep his POST certification current.

White had already accrued two years of verified full-time service as a Monroe County deputy from 2004-2006. He claimed to have worked for Vonore from 2010-2014, including one year as full time during 2012.

POST Investigator Mark Hall told the commission White did not meet the minimum qualifications for POST certification. The law states that to gain certification the officer must be working full time, with the pay being his primary means of support. White was paid about $960 over almost four years, Hall said.

"It's pretty cut and dry that it's not his primary source of income," Hall said.

Hall told the commission he did everything in his power to prove White was working full time but could not find the evidence to prove it.

After looking at pay records and radio logs, Hall said he concluded that during 2012 White worked about three months from April to June. There is no record of any activity after June, he said.

"It's hard to believe you can work seven months and never have a call or never be dispatched," Hall said.

Three affidavits signed by police officers saying they had worked with White were vague and remarkably similar. The documents appeared to be a "cut and paste job," Hall said.

"In my opinion one person wrote them all," Hall said.

Hall told the commissioners that interviews with Vonore Chief of Police Randy Kirkland did not provide strong assurances that White was working full time. Hall said Kirkland told him he believed White was working, but he didn't know for sure because he left at 4 p.m.