ODNR: Officer followed rules

Sandusky County wildlife officer, 15 others cleared after allegations they were hunting while on duty.
Tom Jackson
Feb 5, 2014

 

Sandusky County wildlife officer Brian Bury followed the rules when he went deer hunting the same day he was on duty, an Ohio Department of Natural Resources probe has concluded.

The ODNR probe was carried out after a December state inspector general report alleged 18 wildlife officers were either deer hunting on duty or turning in false time reports. One of the 18 has retired, and the department exonerated 16 of the 17 remaining officers and returned them to active duty on Tuesday, said Bethany McCorkle, an ODNR spokeswoman.

Bury is one of the officers back on the job as a law enforcement officer, after being assigned desk duty while the probe was carried out.

Another officer, James Carnes, of Highland County, faces discipline from the department. He’s been referred to a pre-disciplinary hearing.

McCorkle wouldn’t release his name, but she released the names of all the other 16 officers who had been cleared of wrongdoing. Missing from that list is Carnes, accused in the inspector general report of deer hunting in Highland County while on duty on Dec. 5, 2009.

The inspector general combed through work records for the officers before releasing a report on the matter. According to the report, on Jan. 24, 2011, Bury may have harvested a deer while on duty, and on Jan. 25 he checked it in when his unit history log showed he was on duty.

McCorkle said further investigation showed Bury and most of the other officers were taking advantage of flexible working schedules, as they often do, and were not hunting deer on company time.

“We were very pleased with what we found in our investigation and review” she said.

A flexible schedule for the officers is considered normal because of the nature of their work, she said.

“They are pretty much on call and responding when need be” she said.

The ODNR concedes that record keeping by the wildlife officers leaves something to be desired, and the agency has tightened that up, she said.

“The daily logs they keep now will more accurately reflect a snapshot of their day” she said.

The officers will be required to log on hourly, which also will improve safety, as the department will quickly notice if an officer is missing, she said.

Bury did not return a call asking for comment.

Carl Enslen, deputy Ohio inspector general, said the office has received the ODNR’s response.

“We do stand by the report that we issued. However, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources does have to come to their own conclusion on how to handle this issue,” Enslen said. “Clearly, the report does touch on a lack of solid record keeping”

Comments

Retiree

Fair Labor Standards Act states "that an individual who is on call is to be paid his/her normal rate of pay as long as that person is on call". Flexible working schedule, is that the same as I'll work when I want too. Your doing a good job on trying to sweep this abuse of taxpayers money under the rug.

cam

Retiree. A wildlife officer is pretty much on call 24/7. Unless they are on vacation. So according to what you say the Fair Labor Standards Act says we owe them some money. If you don't believe they are on call just have a poaching take place at midnight or weekend night. Who do you think gets called out?

Ned Mandingo

I have heard this Brian guy was also trespassing while hunting?

Bloodhound79

Retiree,
First off, Division of Wildlife is not funded with your tax dollars! Also FLSA states that, but does not mean they are paid the normal rate. As far as a flex schedule, sir, you have it all wrong. All it means is there is not a set time in/time out that you must have taken for granted. They work no less than any other employee. They are on-call no matter what, so try making a "normal" work schedule. Get your facts straight before using your totally invalid "my tax dollars" crap.

Retiree

If someone is on your property after midnight it is called trespassing. The sheriff's department is your first response. The sheriff handles the situation and reports to the Div. of Wildlife if someone is poaching or a hunting violation. The land owner has the right to press trespassing charges if so desired. Not all people on someones property after midnight are poaching.

The Div. of Wildlife is funded by the state through taxpayer dollars. There is a wildlife person on call after normal working hours in case of dire emergencies. The sheriff's report is given to the Div. of Wildlife the next scheduled working day and an investigation takes place. The one officer on call is compensated for the period of time that he is on stand-by. If they report to a emergency they are paid time and a half or double time for hours worked. In the future you should get your facts straight when it comes to labor laws.

Bloodhound79

Retiree,
Please call the Ohio Division of Wildlife and ask if the are funded by tax payers. Then report back to me, m'kay?

Retiree

The Register's viewpoint: She, referring to Bethany McCorkle, even acknowledges the hourly sheets and record keeping done by O,D.N.R. keeping track of its employees was lax and has been improved since the inspector general's report.
The bigger problem than hunting on duty, in my opinion, is an agency that allows it to happen because it's mismanage and then provides a silly explanation to say it didn't happen. This isn't a problem with the employees; it's a problem with the employer.
What category do you fit in Bloodhound79. Corruption is running rapid even in the O.D.N.R.

Bloodhound79

No, it isn't a problem with employees and that's the point. So the original story runs these wildlife officers names through the mud and it wasn't their fault. You are contributing to making these employees, the hard workers look like lazy bums by your comments. Isn't it ALWAYS upper corrupt management that screws with employees and then blames them? Also, have you acknowledged that your tax dollars do not fund the Division of Wildlife yet?