Undersheriff position back in the game | RecordCourier.com

Undersheriff position back in the game

by Maggie O'Neill, Staff Writer

Going back to basics. That’s what Sheriff Ron Pierini of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office is doing by appointing Chief Deputy Bob Rudnick to undersheriff.

“He’s been with our department since 1975 and he’s gone through all the ranks with the departments,” Pierini said. “He’s worked detective, patrol, and jail. He’s worked them all. He’s done an excellent job and I know he’ll continue to do so. He is good for the job.”

The undersheriff position has not been used since 1997 when Pierini became sheriff and streamlined upper management. Pierini, appointed sheriff by outgoing Sheriff Jerry Maple, subsequently appointed two chief deputies to serve with him. Pierini had been the last undersheriff serving from 1994 to 1997 under Maple.

“In law enforcement and the command structure you have to be willing to experiment or test new ways of doing things,” Pierini said.

At that time, Rudnick became chief deputy of the administration and jail departments and Bob Wenner became chief deputy of the detective and patrol divisions. Under that set-up, the four division heads reported to the appropriate chief deputy.

Under the new — and in this case old — set-up, the lieutenants report directly to the undersheriff who reports to Pierini.

It’s one less person in the chain of command made possible after Wenner retired in February of this year.

“It’s unity of command,” Pierini said. “All four lieutenants report to one position through Bob. It’s a better coordinated effort and it seems to be working better already.”

Cutting one staff position means that a person can be hired in another position. The position of lieutenant of administration will be filled — most likely — this summer, according to Pierini.

“The cost savings that we will experience will be creating another lieutenant position with four instead of three.”

Lt. Mike Biaggini heads the investigative division, Lt. Steve Orr heads the patrol division and Lt. Steve Howell heads the jail division.

When the administrative lieutenant division position is filled, six people will fill the top chain of command positions — four lieutenants, one undersheriff and one sheriff.

“About 10 years ago, there were eight administrators in management who were command staff,” Pierini said.

Pierini hopes that by appointing a undersheriff some of the work load at the sheriff’s office will be alleviated.

“We wear a lot of hats here,” he said. “There’s a lot of work that we’re not able to touch now because of the workload. We will only have six with the old-time comparison of eight. It’s saves money for the county.”

Rudnick is in his 29th year of service at the sheriff’s office, which he joined in 1975. He began his career in the patrol and investigation divisions and in 1987 was promoted to sergeant. He worked in the jail division and in the early 1990s went back to the investigative division, which he described as his first “love.” He was promoted to lieutenant in 1993 and in 1997 became head of the patrol division.

The same year he became a chief deputy under Pierini. Gauging the success of the new position in the sheriff’s office at this point is premature, he said, but he is enjoying the promotion.

“I like the anticipated challenges that comes along with more responsibility,” he said. “The interaction with the division commanders has been enlightening. I enjoy working with the people that I work with.”

Much of his new role entails involvement in collective decision-making.

“The position offers different avenues and support,” he said. “I identify those things that would help assist the members perform their assignments more diligently.”

Maggie O’Neill can be reached at mo’neill@recordcourier.com or (775) 782-5121, ext. 214.