Two weeks ago I sent a FOIA request to Greene County requesting information related to the training/certification of County staff working in the Greene County Emergency Communications Center (ECC). I was not required to tell the County why I was making this request; however, in my request I shared, “…my concern is that the GCECC has not been minimally staffed at all times by trained dispatchers, something not shared with Greene County residents, leaving them without the service they deserve and putting first responders at risk due to lack of mandated training.”

As it is unclear from the Greene County website “whom” the ECC is subordinated I sent my request to both the County Administrator, Mark B. Taylor, Esq., and the Sheriff Steven Smith via email.

Mr. Taylor responded, “I have confirmed with staff in Greene County Administration that we have no records that would be responsive to your requests regarding training of GCECC staff. The Emergency Communications Center operates under exclusive control of the Greene County Sheriff.”

Sheriff Smith responded, “Per your request for all ECC work schedules including names with dates and times staff worked, hiring dates, times worked, and training records for the time period February 2018 to present: This information request is for Access of Personnel Records, as such, it is exempted from disclosure under Section 2.2-3705.1 number 1 of the Code of Virginia (FOIA).”

Here is the provision cited by the Sheriff, “1. Personnel information concerning identifiable individuals, except that access shall not be denied to the person who is the subject thereof. Any person who is the subject of such information and who is 18 years of age or older may waive, in writing, the protections afforded by this subdivision. If the protections are so waived, such information shall be disclosed. Nothing in this subdivision shall be construed to authorize the withholding of any resumes or applications submitted by persons who are appointed by the Governor pursuant to § 2.2-106 or 2.2-107.

No provision of this chapter or any provision of Chapter 38 (§ 2.2-3800 et seq.) shall be construed as denying public access to (i) contracts between a public body and its officers or employees, other than contracts settling public employee employment disputes held confidential as personnel records under § 2.2-3705.1; (ii) records of the name, position, job classification, official salary, or rate of pay of, and records of the allowances or reimbursements for expenses paid to, any officer, official, or employee of a public body; or (iii) the compensation or benefits paid by any corporation organized by the Virginia Retirement System or its officers or employees. The provisions of this subdivision, however, shall not require public access to records of the official salaries or rates of pay of public employees whose annual rate of pay is $10,000 or less.”

Based on my interpretation, the only information exempted by this statute is the actual names and positions of the employee, not their certification of training and the according GCECC schedule identifying those on duty who meet the training certifications.

Neither the county administrator, nor the sheriff responded to my concern regarding uncertified personnel on duty in the ECC.

Why did the county administrator and sheriff not respond to my question? Is there a conspiracy/cover up because they both know that untrained staff were on duty with their knowledge? As the county administrator responded, “The Emergency Communications Center operates under exclusive control of the Greene County Sheriff,” and as Sheriff Smith refused to address whether staff that work for him have the requisite training, I feel voters need to ask themselves if Sheriff Smith is someone who is merits re-election?

Matt Strauss

Ruckersville

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