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Deputies resign over insurance

In the wake of the Unicoi County Commission’s decision not to include funding for county employee family insurance premiums at the same level as the 2014-2015 fiscal year in the 2015-2016, two employees resigned from the Unicoi County Sheriff’s Department.
On Monday, Sheriff Mike Hensley said the two employees were Sgt. Chris Boings, who was a school resource officer also assigned to the town of Unicoi, and Deputy William Laws, who was a court officer.
“It’s hurt me and the department,” Hensley said. “I do expect more officers to leave. I know they have submitted applications. I hate to lose them, but I don’t blame them. There are no incentives to work at this sheriff’s department, especially after what has happened with the insurance.”
Hensley said eight other employees have told him they plan to leave the department. These eight include deputies, investigators and ranking officers, he also said.
“A lot of them will tell you they don’t want to leave the county,” Hensley continued. “They love working in the county. But, their families come first and they decided they need to seek other employment in order to take care of their families. I don’t blame them. There is no future here.”
Hensley said plans are in place to fill the void left by Boings and Laws. Austin Miller will be assigned to fill Boings’ posts and Willie Hughes will be hired to work as a road deputy. Also, two investigators have been assigned to temporarily “work the road” until two new deputies graduate from the police academy.
Hensley also said he has withdrawn the officer assigned to the First Judicial Drug Task Force (DTF) in order to have another deputy on the road.
“I am still remaining a member of the DTF,” Hensley said. “They understand my predicament.”
Hensley said if the remaining eight employees who have expressed their intentions to leave the department do leave, replacing them will be difficult.
“I don’t have money in my budget for training new officers,” he added.
Hensley did say that interlocal agreements with agencies in the counties surrounding Unicoi will provide for additional officers in the case of an emergency or serious case.
“I have been assured by those agencies that they will help,” Hensley added. “I don’t want people to get the idea if something happens we won’t have help. I can ask for assistance. This county, as long as I am sheriff, will be protected.”