View Mobile Site


Board overturns firing of deputies after inmate escaped

Sheriff’s office appealing reinstatement

POSTED: November 20, 2013 12:25 a.m.

The Hall County Sheriff’s Office is appealing a decision by the Hall County Civil Service Board to reinstate two deputies terminated after the escape of an inmate from the Hall County Courthouse in July.

The board met on Monday to hear the appeal of former deputies Jack Dodd and Randy Larry Henslee and decided to overturn the terminations, according to a statement from the sheriff’s office.

Efforts by The Times to obtain comments from members of the board were unsuccessful. A message left with Henslee was not returned and efforts to reach Dodd also were unsuccessful.

Both Dodd and Henslee were assigned to an inmate transport detail on July 16 when James Edward Cantrell, 46, escaped custody during transfer from the courthouse to a transport vehicle.

Cantrell was among a group of inmates being escorted back to the Hall County Jail after court proceedings.

After the bus departed, Cantrell located a nearby work truck with the keys left inside and fled, evading custody for six days before being captured July 22 at a motel in Tucker by agents of the Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force.
Hall County Sheriff Gerald Couch fired Dodd and Henslee on July 23, and the two men filed an appeal the same day.
The sheriff’s office will be appealing the board’s decision to the Hall County Superior Court.

“Unfortunately, the facts surrounding the case clearly warranted terminating both employees,” the sheriff’s office statement said.

According to the July 22 letter of termination, signed by Couch, the deputies’ “negligence and inattention” resulted in Cantrell’s being able to walk away and hide in a breezeway.

Additionally, the letter said, upon returning to the jail the deputies failed to “properly account for all the inmates ... which greatly increased the time that inmate Cantrell was gone before it was discovered that he had escaped.”

Exacerbating the incident, the letter said, the deputies did not immediately notify their supervisors, breaching protocol and hindering Cantrell’s eventual recapture. There was about an hour-and-30-minute delay in discovering Cantrell’s escape, officials said.

The deputies had mixed records, according to personnel records obtained by The Times. Henslee had been employed with the office since June 22, 1998, and was suspended without pay for policy violations once in 2003 and once in 2004.

Dodd’s record didn’t include any suspensions, only a letter of appreciation, signed by then-Sheriff Steve Cronic, in July 2008 for “outstanding job performance during the last few weeks, dealing with the transport of board-in and court inmates.” Dodd began his employment with the office in February 2008.

Both deputies remain off the job during the appeal process, and a court date has not been set.


Commenting not available.
Commenting is not available.




Powered by
Morris Technology
Please wait ...