Former Chisago Co. deputy says sheriff forced him out of job to hire son

Former Chisago County Chief Deputy Chad Worden said his boss gave him an ultimatum -- either accept the hiring of his son, or leave. Worden said he was forced out of his job after blowing the whistle on the sheriff for hiring his own son.

He was hoping to get his job back on Wednesday night. Or at the very least, he wanted the county commissioners to do something. Instead, they approved a new chief deputy and decided not to touch the issue.

According to Worden, both county and sheriff's office policy doesn't allow for the hiring of family members, as supervisors can’t have any relation to their employees.

Worden confronted the sheriff, reminded him of the department policy, and raised his concern about the message it would send internally and to the community. But instead, Sheriff Duncan gave him two options.

"The sheriff told me I had two choices,” Worden said.  “And those choices were to be fired or submit my resignation."

Worden said he and the sheriff have been friends for a decade, and he left his job with the Forest Lake Police Department five years ago because Sheriff Duncan asked him to come work for him.

“We do have an obligation to the tax payers to act ethically and certainly within the scope of policy, and it doesn’t look good for the head of an organization to violate a major policy like that," Worden said. "And that’s extremely concerning to me.”

On Wednesday, a few of the commissioners claimed the personnel director approved the hiring and it followed all the rules.

Statement from Sheriff Rick Duncan

"The events reported over the last few days are two separate issues. 

In regards to the hiring of my son, I abstained from any involvement with the testing, interview and background process.  My only involvement in the hiring process was to recommend the county hiring of qualified candidates who passed all aspects of the testing process to fill the current openings. This is in accordance to Chisago County hiring policy. 

Out of respect for Mr. Worden, and in an effort to comply with data privacy issues, I am not able to speak of any personnel issues related to Mr. Worden at this time. Currently Mr. Worden has mentioned a possible lawsuit, therefore disallowing any further discussion or statements on my part."