Sheriff's sergeant denied retirement gifts after 30 years - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Sheriff's sergeant denied retirement gifts after 30 years

SPOKANE, Wash. - Cake and punch filled tables in a conference room at Spokane County's Public Safety Building last month. Friends and family lined the walls of the room; everyone was celebrating the end of a career decades in the making, but the County's Human Resources Department said it was certainly not a retirement.

Sgt. Greg Barkley left the department in good standing, by all accounts, after 30 years in law enforcement.

"I like catching bad guys," Barkley said.

While most employees leaving after 30 years are awarded tokens of appreciation such as a watch and plaque, the sergeant was not - and the reason is contentious to those in the Sheriff's Office.

"We were a little stunned by the concept," said Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich.

The Sheriff's Office applied for the watch and plaque earlier this year but was told by Human Resources that Sgt. Barkley didn't qualify.

The items are awarded to employees retiring, according to County policy and employees must be 50-years-old to receive retirement benefits.

Sgt. Barkley started his career as a cadet at age 18. Thirty years later he is 48. The HR department says he is 2 years away from earning the items.

"It seems that 30 years of service that ends when you're 48 isn't as valuable as 30 years of service when you're 50," said the sergeant.

It was a slap in the face to others who spend decades on patrol, missing birthday parties and sporting events with their families.

The woman who made the decision said she wishes she could award the sergeant the items but worries if she makes an exception here she would have to make exceptions later. She cites the policy as the only way to decide who earns the awards.

Sergeant Barkley will be eligible to receive partial financial benefits when he turns 50, but not the watch. After 30 years his patrol watch is over, but he won't have a watch on his wrist to show it.

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