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Charlotte Area News

Cleveland County Sheriff Fires Sheriff-Elect And Three Deputies

http://66.225.205.104/LM20101117.mp3

Cleveland County Sheriff Raymond Hamrick only has another three weeks in office. But that didn't stop him from making some last-minute personnel changes, as WFAE's Lisa Miller reports: Until last Friday, Alan Norman was a captain in Cleveland County's Sheriff's Department. Now he's preparing to serve as Cleveland County Sheriff, while working as a Gaston County deputy. It's confusing, but here's what happened. Outgoing Sheriff Raymond Hamrick gave Sheriff-elect Norman and three other deputies the boot. County commissioner Ronnie Hawkins is upset with Hamrick. "He's been successful in making Cleveland County not only a laughing stock of Cleveland County, but of the whole state," says Hawkins. Sheriff Hamrick makes no apologies for firing his successor just a few weeks before he takes office December 6. Norman was interviewing current Sheriff's department employees for positions in his office. He set up an office to conduct the interviews in the Cleveland Mall. Hamrick says he gave Norman permission to do so, but not the three deputies who were with him. He says he certainly didn't give them permission to use their cruisers to get there. "They were doing nothing to further my business as Sheriff. They were doing business to further his as he transitioned into office in December," says Hamrick. Norman and the deputies are gone at least until December 6, but they're still on the Cleveland County payroll working as Gaston County deputies. The state Sheriff's association asked the Gaston County Sheriff to help them out because their firing didn't just mean the loss of a few weeks of pay. It also meant a loss of some retirement benefits that are based on continuous employment. The Cleveland County Manager made a deal with the Gaston County Sheriff. If the Sheriff would hire them, Cleveland County would pay for them until Sheriff-elect Norman takes office. Norman couldn't be reached because he's at a sheriff's training seminar this week. But the interviews are back on track.