Detective Returned To Top Job At Sheriff's Office

By
Susan Tebben - Athens Messenger staff reporter

Dateline
Updated Tue, Apr 1, 2014 10:28 am

In a reversal of a decision made by Athens County Sheriff Patrick Kelly prior to Kelly’s suspension, a detective has been given his job back as head of the narcotics division.

Acting Interim Sheriff Rodney Smith said he decided to bring back veteran detective Jimmy Heater to the Narcotics Enforcement Team.

“(Heater) is an excellent narcotics officer and I’m glad to have him back as the leader of the (Narcotics Enforcement Team),” Smith said.

Heater was demoted from the head position in February, and filed a grievance with the sheriff’s office soon after his demotion. The grievance, which was denied by Kelly the same day it was filed, asserted that the “job transfer” was “unreasonable and/or arbitrary and capricious,” according to previous reporting by The Messenger.

Alleged violations of two articles in the collective bargaining agreement between the sheriff’s office and the Ohio Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association were listed as reasons for the grievance.

The grievance had been in the process of entering arbitration until Smith made his decision. Heater was happy to be back at his former job, he said Monday.

“I’m glad Sheriff Smith gave me the chance to get back to the work I’ve been doing,” Heater said. The detective has been with the sheriff’s office for 14 years and has been a narcotics officer for 22 years overall, he said.

Deputy Jon Arnold, who had been named by Kelly to replace Heater as head the narcotics team, has been returned to patrol duty by Smith.

Kelly was not happy to hear of the reversal of his decision, saying personnel decisions should not be made until an interim sheriff if officially appointed next Tuesday.

“There should not be one movement until after Tuesday,” Kelly told The Messenger on Monday. “It has only taken three days for this new administration to destroy what we took five years to build.”

Smith was appointed acting interim sheriff on Thursday by the Athens County Commissioners, although the County Democratic Central Committee is scheduled to meet next Tuesday, April 8, to name an interim sheriff. Kelly has been suspended from office while a criminal case is pending against him in Athens County Common Pleas Court.

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