An email obtained by the Rhino Times through a public records request shows that Guilford County Sheriff Danny Rogers has instructed supervisors and others in the department who perform evaluations to give a perfect rating to all employees.
The “Halogen Evaluations” are used by Guilford County government, including the Sheriff’s Department, to rate employee job performance and determine merit-based pay raises. The scale in the Sheriff’s Department runs from 1, extremely poor performance, to 5, perfect performance.
Throughout Guilford County government, Halogen evaluations are used to determine pay increases and assess job performance – and they can affect employees in other ways too, by informing county officials of an employee’s job performance. Evaluations can help or hinder the employees’ job path, for instance, by helping or hurting promotion considerations.
The email, which was sent on Monday afternoon, Oct. 21, by a high-ranking Sheriff’s Department official to supervisors and others in the department who perform those evaluations reads: “Attention Detention, Court Services and Transportation Supervisors …The following is the procedure that Sheriff Danny H. Rogers wants us to follow when completing our Halogen Evaluations…. Give all 5’s to everyone.”
That email goes on to state: “The supervisor should make positive comments and write about what their employees have accomplished this past year. You should cite specific incidents/accomplishments or notable activities during the year in an effort to provide positive feedback. If the employee has deficiencies or needs to work on their performance, the supervisor should discuss those with the employee and provide guidance on ways for improvement during their evaluation meeting and sign off. The supervisor should keep an internal document on deficiencies and needed improvements.”
When the Rhino Times informed some county directors and other county officials of the directive, many stated it was highly unfair to county employees – including to truly good performers in the Sheriff’s Department.
“A 5 basically walks on water,” one said, adding that top scores usually require very solid justification.
The scores of 5 will also mean that the Sheriff’s Department employees get the top amount of money available from the county’s merit pool – which is distributed based on employee performance as rated in the evaluations.
Jim Secor, the attorney for the Sheriff’s Department who currently acts as the spokesperson for the department as well, provided some extensive comments at the time he responded to the Rhino Times request for the email.
“Sheriff Rogers feels the Level 5 (out of 5) grade is justified as our Deputies and Detention Officers have continued to work tirelessly despite staffing shortages,” Secor wrote. “Those staffing issues were present when the Sheriff and his Administration took office last year and have persisted.”
Recently, the number of vacancies in the department hit nearly 100, a huge number for a department that has about 640 employees.
“With respect to our Detention Staff,” he added, “they have been performing ‘mandatory overtime’ so that we can continue to maintain 24/7 staffing at the two Jails. Our sworn Deputies and unsworn Detention ranks both deserve great praise. With the two shooting incidents that took place this month, the focus was on our Deputies and rightfully so. Our Detention Officers do, however, perform equally dangerous work under equally difficult circumstances inside our two Jails and on a daily basis. Although their efforts are often overlooked by the media and the public, the reality is that our Detention Officers play a critical role in keeping our citizens safe because without those Officers, we would have more dangerous criminals out in the community.”
Secor continued: “For the foregoing reasons, which are far too briefly stated to do justice to our employees, Sheriff Rogers firmly believes that our Deputies and Detention Officers have more-than-earned the ‘5 out of 5’ rating on their annual performance evaluations. Those well-deserved high scores, will enable our employees to compete successfully for merit raises under the County’s pay system. Without those pay increases, we risk more employee attrition. Starting salaries for Deputies and Detention Officers with a high school diploma (and no other pay incentives for college degrees or military service) are presently just $38,750.00 and $37,200.00 per year, respectively. That averages out to just $38,000.00 a year – and that is under the County’s new paygrade system. As such, keeping our people competitive for pay increases is just plain common sense.”
According to Secor, that is just $38,000 a year for the men and women who put on a uniform and a badge and take on the risks that deputies and detention officers face each day in order to keep the public safe.
“If there are any critics of the grading system outlined in the attached email,” he wrote, “perhaps they should each be asked if they would accept that same level of responsibility and same level of risk for just $38,000.00 a year. My bet is that you would receive few affirmative responses.”
Secor concludes by addressing concerns that this means a “free pass” for Sheriff’s Department employees.
“Lastly, some may criticize this grading process as a free pass. To do so, however, overlooks the second paragraph in Major Maynard’s email which makes it clear that supervisors will avoid using general platitudes in writing employee evaluations. Instead, Sheriff Rogers has directed GCSO supervisors to describe specific accomplishments by our employees when their preparing annual performance evaluations. Furthermore, the attached email clearly states that GCSO supervisors are not to overlook or ignore deficiencies in an employee’s performance, but rather to document those issues in writing and to counsel our Deputies and Detention Officers as to how to correct those deficiencies and how to become even better performers of their important roles in the Guilford County community.”