Saline Co. Sheriff explains decision to keep job as Harrisburg c - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Saline Co. Sheriff explains decision to keep job as Harrisburg cop

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SALINE COUNTY, Ill. --Whipper Johnson was sworn in as Saline County Sheriff last week, but for the foreseeable future he’ll still be on staff at the Harrisburg Police Department.

Johnson says instead of a lump sum payment for unused vacation and personal time, he’s using it over the next several months, a decision he says should not impact the operations of either agency.

“The payout for the city is the same either way,” Johnson said. “For personal financial reasons I’ve elected to do what a lot of guys do and just burn the time over the next six months.”

The move is allowed under the Fraternal Order of Police Contract, but some city and county officials raised concerns about the decision.

Harrisburg Public Safety commissioner Beth Montfort says the city is more than willing to pay Johnson what he’s owed, but calls the situation unprecedented.

“My understanding is when you’re a sheriff, you’re a sheriff seven days a week, 24 hours a day,” she said.

Montfort says she’s concerned about a conflict of interest between work for the city and county, and which would take precedent, asking, “When something happens when you’re on city time but something happens in the county, whose hat are you wearing?”

Still, Johnson says his work for the city would be limited, and that most of his shifts would be taken care of by his time off.

“I won’t have to work that much at all,” Johnson said. “I’ve offered to help out, cover some shifts here or there but with 1,100 hours plus on the books that’s going to get me where I need to be as far as time and I can just retire out.”

The Saline County Board and Harrisburg City Council have expressed some concern about insurance and liability issues, and are still waiting to confirm how exactly it would work.

“There’s a potential of a problem of who would take responsibility if unfortunately something happened,” said county board member Wes Sherrod. “But that’s something we’ve always got to look for. What’s the worst case scenario with this?”

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