Indiana deputy fired after missing COVID-19 test while on vacation

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BOONE COUNTY, Ind. (WRTV) - A sheriff’s deputy in Indiana is out of a job for missing a mandatory coronavirus test, something he says was the result of a misunderstanding.

Tobias Shepherd was a road patrol deputy with the Boone County Sheriff’s Office. He says he was on a family trip in southern Indiana when he missed his scheduled test.

Tobias Shepherd, right, was a road patrol deputy with the Boone County Sheriff’s Office until he was fired over what he says was a misunderstanding related to mandatory coronavirus testing.
Tobias Shepherd, right, was a road patrol deputy with the Boone County Sheriff’s Office until he was fired over what he says was a misunderstanding related to mandatory coronavirus testing. (Source: WRTV via CNN)

“I don’t know that it is reasonable to terminate someone over what I would say is a missight, perhaps on my part, but I don’t think it is reasonable to suggest termination,” said Shepherd during his Wednesday hearing before the merit board.

Shepherd says he informed his superiors he would be on vacation and asked what the procedure would be for his mandatory coronavirus test.

His test was rescheduled, and he took it after returning from his trip.

However, Sheriff Mike Nelson says Shepherd violated policy. All sheriff’s office employees are only allowed to miss a test if they are out of state. As Shepherd was not out of state, he should have taken the originally scheduled test.

The executive secretary says when Shepherd asked about procedure, she assumed he would be traveling out of state.

“I did not refuse to take a test. I did take a test. I didn’t miss my test. I took my test,” Shepherd said. “I followed a directive that I thought to be correct at the time.”

Nelson says firing the deputy was the right thing to do.

“We needed to make sure that the message is very clear out there that this virus is killing people. The positivity rate continues to go up, and we have to do everything we can to protect the people, the inmates that they have entrusted me to care for and the public and mostly the staff. That’s what this is about, just making sure we do that,” Nelson said.

Five civilian employees have also been fired for missing their COVID-19 tests.

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