I-Team: Employees complained Hamilton County jail commander created hostile work environment

Major McGuffey to lose management duties June 1
Posted at 6:41 PM, May 18, 2017

CINCINNATI -- An Internal Affairs investigation of Major Charmaine McGuffey blamed her for creating a hostile work environment. 

The 9 On Your Side I-Team requested and reviewed copies of McGuffey's 339-page personnel file and the Internal Affairs investigations of her conduct. In all, more than a dozen employees complained about her.

McGuffey is the highest-ranking woman in the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office. She said Sheriff Jim Neil told her she would lose her management duties as of June 1.

RELATED: Why Hamilton County jail commander Charmaine McGuffey says she's being ousted

In a recent news conference, McGuffey insisted she was the victim.

"I simply was targeted because I insisted that I, as the commander of this jail, know each and every instance of use of forces that occur and why they occurred and how we resolved them," she said.

Two previous Internal Affairs investigations of McGuffey determined that allegations against her were "unfounded."

Two weeks ago, the I-Team revealed some corrections officers received light punishment for what the sheriff's office determined was excessive force.

MORE: What happens when guards use excessive force at the Hamilton County Justice Center?

The sheriff's office decided Corrections Officer Jason Mize used excessive force when he pushed a 61-year-old inmate headfirst into a wall. According to internal records, McGuffey told Mize he should be charged criminally. The prosecutor's office declined to present the case to a grand jury. Mize resigned six months later.

"The sheriff absolutely knew that I was asking questions about our use of forces," McGuffey said. "He attended meetings to that effect."

A sheriff's office memo written by Neil on Feb. 10, 2017 shows he approved a 9.5 percent pay raise for McGuffey to $98,705 a year, nearly a month after Internal Affairs began investigating her. The sheriff's office said all majors were given raises to keep them at a certain level above captain pay.

According to the memo, the raise was retroactive to Jan. 12, the day after the first complaint was filed about McGuffey's behavior. By the time the sheriff wrote that memo, a dozen employees had been interviewed by Internal Affairs.

ALSO: Hamilton County sheriff's discipline of drunken deputies called too lax

After the investigation found McGuffey created a hostile work environment and was dishonest with investigators, Neil told her she would lose her management responsibilities.

McGuffey said the sheriff offered her a civilian position to continue working with special programs at the jail, but she declined to say if she'll accept it.

A sheriff's office spokesman said McGuffey is on paid administrative leave but retains the rank of major.