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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Bob Reid Let Friend's Workplace Dating Slide at Sheriff's Department Despite Warnings From HR

Posted By on Wed, Aug 7, 2013 at 9:24 AM

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The Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department is never held up in this town as a sterling guidepost of ethics. Even with all sorts of promises of bright futures and new faces, the department still manages to carry the scent of its old ways.

A recent exchange of “I do’s” called to mind some intra-office dating over the past year or so.

Tim Oleksiak, former chief’s deputy of the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department, got married in July. Katie Orlando, a detective with the department’s sexual offenders unit, was the bride. Surely, the ceremony was beautiful, though the marriage license filed July 2 doesn’t paint much of a picture.

Oleksiak resigned from the sheriff’s department earlier this year, seeking out a spot as an investigator under Prosecutor Tim McGinty, whose office he joined on April 22. But the dots are simple to connect for those interested: Sources have described Oleksiak and Orlando’s relationship as fairly visible since it began in April 2012. Oleksiak wasn’t in charge of Orlando’s day-to-day assignments, but the organizational flow confirms that she reported to him.

The concerns among department sources revolve around a sense of special treatment proffered to the detective. Some point to the relationship being indicative of a broader look-the-other-way culture that’s been humming along at the department for years. Often, it’s the perception of such a thing just by itself that cultivates further fractures, as any human resources official will say.

“When it started to become more than just dating, we got HR involved,” former County Sheriff Bob Reid tells Scene. “We made sure she didn’t answer to him...We got the deputy chief out of the loop, as far as discipline was involved.”

But the office’s HR head, Elisa Hara, explains that nothing of the sort was actually sanctioned by her department. “It certainly wasn’t done officially,” she tells Scene. “I certainly did not make any recommendations for reassignment of duties.” She adds that the department doesn’t have a policy, per se, when it comes to workplace relationships.

In a July 2, 2012, letter to Oleksiak’s supervisors, she writes: “[I]t is a problem for supervisors to date subordinates within their [d]epartments, for a variety of reasons,” going on to enumerate concerns about workplace perceptions that sources shared with Scene. Later in the letter, she writes that transferring either employee to another department was out of the question, given the structure of the department. She concludes: “[I]t is inappropriate for them to engage in a romantic relationship as long as both are working in their current positions.”

Those comments came precisely one year before the marriage license was filed downtown.

“These things are a little difficult,” Reid says, thinking back and painting a picture of the department’s 1,100 employees, some of whom had come from the previous administration as husbands and wives already.

“Especially when it’s a supervisor and subordinate situation, you’ve got to let HR in on the situation.” These things are also difficult when the chief’s deputy in question is close friends with the sheriff, as Reid confirms. He personally brought Oleksiak into the department back in 2009, shortly after he took up the sheriff’s post.
The only real fix for the issue at hand was rendered by the man in the middle of everything. Oleksiak tendered his resignation on April 20, less than three months prior to the wedding.

After spending decades with the Bedford Police Department, Reid served for more than three years as the county sheriff, before accepting County Executive Ed FitzGerald’s request for his resignation in January this year. Outside of the pair’s blatant mismatch in management styles, no real reason was ever given for the request. On some level, however, the move galvanized accusations of mismanagement among FitzGerald’s post.

Reid is now running for the county executive office, soon-to-be vacated by FitzGerald. He kicked off his August with endorsement from about a dozen suburban mayors, keeping his candidacy plenty visible, even 15 months out from the election.

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