Commission chairman criticizes Madison Co. sheriff in letter ov - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Commission chairman criticizes Madison Co. sheriff in letter over new hire

In the letter, Strong addresses the hire and questions why Fulk was awarded the position.(Source: WAFF) In the letter, Strong addresses the hire and questions why Fulk was awarded the position.(Source: WAFF)

Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong didn’t mince words to Sheriff Blake Dorning in a letter he sent him last month.

The letter, dated March 21, questions Dorning’s decision to hire of new Madison County Metro Jail administrator Troy Fulk. Fulk was given the job last month.

In the letter, Strong addresses the hire and questions why Fulk was awarded the position.

Specified requirements within the job announcement included a Bachelor’s Degree with 10 years’ experience or 20 plus years’ experience combined with a minimum of five years of supervisory or managerial experience. Other position requirements included financial management, and a proven skill set managing a large jail or prison, and supervisory experience.

It appears very few, if any, of these prerequisites were sought during the process. You selected a candidate that does not meet the criteria set forth in the job description you created, has less than one year working in a jail setting,
has neither a Bachelor of Science nor a Master’s degree in any field of study, very limited supervision nor managerial experience, zero financial management experience of a multi-million dollar budget,  and furthermore appears to have never managed more than
a handful of employees during any of his previous positions. It appears, based on his resume, his most recent professional work experience was as a Security Director for a public school system – for less than one year – prior to being hired March 9, 2015 by
the Madison County Sheriff Department as a Training Coordinator. In only 12 short months, he has not been elevated to the highest position over the troubled Madison County Metro Jail as of March 7, 2016.

Strong continues to blast Sheriff Dorning in the letter and questions why a search firm wasn’t brought on to conduct a nationwide search for a qualified candidate.

Strong then brings up recent lawsuits that Madison County has settled that have occurred at the jail.

He then ends the letter claiming that Doring was not aware of the severity of what happened. 

 Your lack of understanding of the severity and consequences of what has occurred under your leadership through your department – with practically no discipline and your continued arrogance to say “we have done nothing wrong” as the lawsuits pile up, and while our insurance company continues to authorize payouts of costly settlements because of factual evidence is baffling to the say the least. It appears more evident this is a pattern of repeated conduct rather than an honest mistake.

Strong also copied the six other county commissioners on the letter. We called Chairman Strong’s office on Tuesday afternoon but were told he’s out of town for the day.

We reached out to the Madison County Sheriff’s Office. They replied with the following talking points:

The job description (provided) for the Madison County Jail Administrators position was published on the Madison County government website as well as the American Jail Association (AJA) website, a nationally recognized organization with national circulation. also picked up the position advertisement and was available on the worldwide web.

The job description states the salary for the Jail Administrator is a Grade 26, Step 6 and pays yearly $65,124.80.

Code of Alabama (1975) Section 14-16-1 (provided) states that the Sheriff has legal custody and charge of the jail in his or her county and all prisoners committed thereto, except in cases otherwise provided by law. The Sheriff may employ persons to carry out his or her duty to operate the jail.

Nowhere in the above statute does it allow the County Commission to operate the jail, provide supervision, act for, or be involved in the hiring of Sheriff’s Office employees for the jail.

An Organization Chart is being provided that outlines the new structure of the Madison County Jail to include the formation of a Corrections Captain position and will oversee all operational functions of the jail. The Captains position reports directly to a position of Major (Troy Fulk) who in turn reports directly to Sheriff Dorning.  This reorganization also includes a separate CFO position to handle all non-operational aspects of the jail. This reorganization emphasizes a delegated tasking concept to assigned authority to carry out the jails mission. Responsibility of the Jail’s operation ultimately lies with the Sheriff.

After a thorough review of the 56 candidates nationwide who applied, three were selected to move forward. Troy Fulk was one of the candidates. The other candidate was also from the Madison County Jail (onboard Lieutenant) and the third candidate was from the State of New York and employed as a Lieutenant in a county facility housing approximately 650 inmates. The Madison County Jail count as of this date is 852 inmates and changes daily.

Troy Fulk submitted in his application and a copy of his resume (attached). His experience includes 25- plus years in law enforcement. He was initially hired as the Madison County Sheriff’s Office Jail Training Coordinator in March 2015 and had been the Acting Jail Administrator since December 4, 2015.

Troy Fulk was selected from an independent review of a panel of interviewers consisting of respected members of the executive and judicial branches of Madison County government (retirees). He scored at the top of the candidates interviews and thereafter was interviewed by the Sheriff and ultimately selected.

By letter (provided) dated March 4, 2016, Sheriff Dorning advised the Madison County Commission that Troy Fulk was the newly selected Jail Administrator. The letter also states that an outside contractual agreement was entered into with a group to conduct a Jail Operational Assessment. The Sheriff has plans to present this independent assessment information to the Commission prior to making the assessment public (report will be placed on our website). The Sheriff in this letter has asked the Commission for a future date on their calendars for the assessment presentation and none have responded to his letter. The letter also discusses the new organizational chart and the formation of a CFO to assist in jail finances/compliance/contracts. Mr. Frank Spinelli has agreed to help in a contracted “as needed” temporary CFO position until one is selected. The letter also asks for funding for the Captains position and will be a new position. The Captains position is currently unfunded in the 2016 budget.

You can read the letter in full here

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