Captain’s paid leave tallies $29,300
Six months after a closed-door investigation began into allegations regarding the Nevada County jail, the facility’s top administrator remains on paid administrative leave.
Capt. Kenneth Duncan was placed on leave in mid-November while the county hired a consultant to conduct the investigation.
Sheriff Keith Royal said he could not reveal the nature of the allegations, which he said were “complicated,” because state law protects state employees’ privacy in personnel matters. He said he also could not reveal the name of the company contracted to investigate the allegations or the amount of money the county agreed to pay for the work.
“It is our hope we can conclude the review of this matter within the next 30 to 60 days,” Royal said.
He added that “morale is high at the Wayne Brown Correctional facility among staff.”
Royal also said “it is my hope that” Duncan’s wife, Nevada County employee Susan Duncan, could return by the end of this week to her position as coordinator of spiritual and 12-Step programs at the jail.
Early in the investigation, Susan Duncan was transferred to a position in the county’s housing department.
In the meantime, Capt. Duncan has continued to draw his salary. According to public records, Sheriff’s captains earn between $4,882 and $6,873 per month. That means the county has spent at least $29,300 on Duncan’s salary while the investigation keeps him sidelined.
Paid leave is considered a neutral status, implying no wrong-doing, and is normal during an investigation, County Counsel Robert Schulman said.
The Union has received several anonymous letters and e-mails concerning the investigation. They could not be independently verified.
The letters contain numerous allegations, including wrong-doing on the part of the Duncans, improper treatment of inmates, concerns for public safety, praise of the Duncans’ work and charges that the couple is being unfairly targeted by a few disgruntled employees.
One letter writer said the same allegations had been brought to Royal before the investigation was started.
Royal said he could not comment on specific cases.
However, Royal did respond to several allegations in general terms.
In regard to charges of inhumane treatment at the jail, Royal said he “will not tolerate any misuse of force in a custody setting.
“Any use of force is documented,” he said. “Once it occurs, we review each event to assure the force is appropriate. If there’s any misuse of force, it will be dealt with appropriately.”
He added that officials had investigated some complaints regarding inmate accounts. “We have not found any misconduct associated with the theft of inmate property or money,” Royal said.
Regarding concerns about the administration of spiritually oriented programs at the jail, Royal said, “We recognize the benefits that they bring to the custody setting.”
Regarding allegations that improper administration of those programs had been creating a safety risk, Royal said he currently has no safety concerns.
“We have procedures in place to maintain a safe environment for the staff, the public and the inmate population,” he said. However, the sheriff would not comment on whether those procedures were being followed before the investigation.
Letter writers, both critical and in support of the Duncans, expressed fear about retaliation for making complaints.
“If complaints are brought forward, we always look into them,” Royal said.
Angel Bojorquez, an active member of the local recovery community, said he had not heard of any reports of misconduct, ill treatment or favoritism from people who had been in jail prior to the Duncans’ absence.
“They call it ‘Wayne’s World,'” Bojorquez joked, referring to a 1990s-era movie about suburban teenage boredom. “I don’t hear that there’s any of that kind of behavior going on in the jail. … It’s not a real intense atmosphere.”
To contact staff writer Trina Kleist, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4231.
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