I would like to cry “foul” on the article in the U-B regarding the county seeking better accounting of work hours. The article singled out and focused unfairly on Undersheriff Edward Freyer. It misrepresented the service, time and commitment that Undersheriff Freyer has given to this community during his tenure.
Undersheriff Freyer has given hundreds of uncompensated hours helping to coordinate training for Search & Rescue volunteers, heading up the city/county SWAT team, assisting during SWAT and other call-outs and more — all without being paid any overtime. I can attest that Undersheriff Freyer well exceeded an average of 160 hours per month.
Undersheriff Freyer began serving Walla Walla County when Sheriff John Turner took office on Jan. 1, 2011. Being a “salary exempt” employee, Undersheriff Freyer was directed not to track or document the hours he arrived to the office or when he left for the day. All of the command staff were given that direction.
This is because salary exempt employees have responsibilities that are often difficult, if not impossible, to quantify. Those responsibilities often demand much more than eight hours per day and salary exempt employees are not paid overtime. Freyer is operating as directed by the sheriff.
If the county wants to establish a policy to ensure that exempt employees are meeting their obligations, they need to do so with the personnel responsible.
That person, according to the FLSA, is the employee’s supervisor. For Undersheriff Freyer, that would be Sheriff Turner.
Put another way, if someone feels Undersheriff Freyer was shirking his obligations, the sheriff would be the person accountable to the citizens and the article should have read as such.
I am privileged to know and work with Ed Freyer and have learned a great deal from him.