Prior to the adoption of the merit board system by the state legislature, county deputies had no due process regarding employment issues or disciplinary actions. It was common practice for deputies to be terminated and replaced after each sheriff's election. A deputy's job security was totally at the whim of the current sheriff.
In 1981, Indiana Code: 36-8-10-3 established the ordinance that created a sheriff's merit board in every Indiana county to govern deputies employed by county sheriff's departments.
The merit board system, which is similar to the fair labor standards that civilian employers are expected to follow, governs the policies regarding how each deputy is hired and disciplined.
The merit board consists of five members; three nominated by the sheriff and two by a majority vote of the members of the county police force. The sheriff can not nominate more than two people from the same political party while the members of the county police force can not nominate more than one from the same political party.
A board member must be a Clay County resident, but cannot be an active county law enforcement officer.
Members are compensated a minimum of $15 per day while they are engaged in transacting the business of the board.
The merit board meets monthly throughout the year and as often as necessary to transact the business of the sheriff's department.
Current members of the Clay County Sheriff's Merit Board are: Dr. Ronald Leach, president; Tom Telgemeyer, secretary; and members Ronald Sclight, Jack Mayrose and Cathy Swearingen.