Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Police chief on ‘indefinite’ medical leave

Sun Valley hires Walt Femling as temporary department head

Express Staff Writer

Walt Femling

Following a recently initiated “indefinite” medical leave of Sun Valley Police Chief Cameron Daggett, Mayor Dewayne Briscoe has contracted former Blaine County Sheriff Walt Femling as the city’s “temporary public safety administrator.”

The appointment was announced Monday during a special meeting of the City Council and the contract became effective immediately. The contract will remain effective until June 1.

Briscoe said at the meeting that about two weeks ago Daggett requested two weeks off for medical leave. 

“He also told me he wanted time to think about a lot of things, his overall situation,” Briscoe said in an interview after the meeting. “He told me he was thinking about retiring.”

Briscoe said at the meeting that once on leave, Daggett informed Michael Parda, the city’s interim executive assistant to the mayor, that he would be gone indefinitely.

“My main responsibility as mayor is to protect the health, safety and welfare of our citizens and their properties,” Briscoe said at the meeting. “I was told that former Blaine County Sheriff Walt Femling was doing law enforcement consulting throughout the West and might be available.”

Briscoe said he called Femling and Femling agreed to work with the city.

“His appointment is not associated in any way with the Blaine County Sheriff’s Department or in any way a consideration of consolidation or an agreement with the Blaine County Sheriff’s Department,” Briscoe said at the meeting.

Femling retired as sheriff in March 2011, citing health problems that he declined to discuss publicly.

“Walt knows the job description and informed me he didn’t have any medical issues that will affect him carrying out his duties,” Briscoe said in the interview.

Briscoe said Femling’s salary will be the same as Daggett’s, which “continues to be paid.” That amount is just over $114,000 per year. City Administrator Susan Robertson said Daggett has requested 12 weeks leave under the federal Family Medical Leave Act, which allows employees to take unpaid, job-protected leave for up to 12 weeks. Though leave is generally unpaid, she said it’s not “atypical” for employees to use sick and vacation days when on leave under the act. She declined to elaborate further.

“I cannot tell you what will happen at this juncture if Chief Daggett does not return to work after 12 weeks,” she said.

Briscoe said at the meeting that he believes Femling, with his 31 years of law enforcement experience, can help evaluate and make recommendations for the future of the city’s law enforcement service.

“I am excited for the opportunity to step in and assist Mayor Briscoe and the city in providing the very best service that Sun Valley expects from its law enforcement,” Femling stated in a Monday news release from the city. “This is a good police department. I know all of the officers. It will be a smooth transition and I expect we will get a lot accomplished together over the next four months.”

Daggett has heart surgery
Chief Cameron Daggett said Tuesday that he underwent emergency open-heart surgery on Tuesday, Jan. 15. “I started experiencing some health symptoms this fall that I believe were brought on by stress,” he said. Daggett said he went in for a medical appointment Jan. 9 that led to further testing and, eventually, the surgery. He said his focus now is directed toward getting healthy. However, he did say he has worked with Femling in the past and believes they both share “similar views” on law enforcement administration.

Brennan Rego:

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