LISBON - The practice of scheduling a deputy to work set hours Wednesdays and Saturdays to accommodate concealed-weapon permit applicants is being discontinued starting in January because of a compensation issue raised by a county sheriff's deputy.
Columbiana County Sheriff Ray Stone said an issue raised in a grievance filed by a deputy, who wanted compensated with time off instead of overtime pay for working the extra hours, would make it more difficult administratively for him to continue the practice, which is why he decided to end it.
Earlier this year, Stone began paying an off-duty deputy overtime to be at the main office for four hours on Wednesdays and Saturdays to complete the application process for those seeking a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Applicants must first fill out the necessary paperwork at the courthouse office before going to the main office located outside of town, where they are fingerprinted and undergo a criminal background check.
Stone said he implemented the assigned hours as a convenience to applicants and as way to bring more order to the process, and it has proven popular with the public. The portion of the permit fee retained by the county is used to pay the overtime of the deputies who volunteer to work the extra detail.
The deputy who worked the Nov. 24 permit detail later requested he be compensated with time off instead of being paid overtime, which deputies have the option to do under their contract. Although the request was initially denied, Stone said they changed their mind rather than fight it.
Compensatory time off, or comp time, can be accumulated for years before being used, which Stone said would create a "bookkeeping nightmare" by forcing his staff to keep track of comp time separately from other comp time because the concealed weapon program is a separate program under the law. He said his chief bookkeeper also questioned whether they were even allowed to grant comp time under the permit program.
Rather than take a chance, Stone said he decided it was simpler to end the practice of special hours and return to the past practice of processing permits at the main office from 8 to 8:30 a.m. Monday, Tuesdays, Wednesday and Fridays. Available deputies will perform the work as part of their regular duties.
The sheriff's office has issued 6,308 permits since Ohio's concealed weapons law went into effect in 2004.