Tuesday, November 14, 2000

Norwood police want jobs filled

Mayor: Cop concerns 'unjustified'

By Walt Schaefer
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NORWOOD — Feet dragging by the city administration has the police division critically understaffed, with the contingent operating at four below the contracted minimum of 48 officers, a police representative said Monday.

        However, Mayor Joe Hochbein said city officials are working to fill the vacancies and should have new officers named within three weeks.

        “The city administration has refused to hire police officers in a timely manner, and the Norwood Police (Wage and Benefit Committee) will be requesting the Norwood law director to conduct an investigation into the legality of the hiring practices of the city administration,” said Police Sgt. Tom Fallon, spokesman for the police bargaining unit.

        Attorney Don Hardin, who represents the police, said he is concerned the administration is interviewing job candidates who are not on the certified civil service list for hire and could be violating civil service law.

        Mr. Hardin said one of the positions is new and included in a negotiated contract with the stipulation the job be filled by last June 1.

        Sgt. Fallon said the two other positions opened in August, when Detective Lt. Steve Crowe and Sgt. Shirel Loomis took a city-offered retirement incentive that gave them a year's salary on their departures. The fourth vacancy was that of police Officer Ken Lancaster, who resigned two weeks ago for personal reasons, Sgt. Fallon said.

        Mayor Hochbein said the police concerns are “unjustified and unnecessarily alarmist” and that candidates will be named to fill all vacancies soon. He noted promotions have been made to fill the vacated lieutenant and sergeant positions and it has been only 10 weeks since they left, and two weeks since Officer Lancaster resigned.

        Mr. Hochbein said interviews have occurred with individuals who are not on the certified civil service list of 10 top candidates, resulting from a May 1999 civil service exam.

        The mayor said several candidates on the 1999 list were passed over for hire three times and that others are no longer interested in those jobs. Candidates passed over three times may legally be removed from the list. The city has the right to hire anyone from the top 10 list. Mr. Hochbein said the city intends to submit necessary documentation and validation to the civil service commission next week and ask the commission to issue a new eligibility list. The mayor said he expects the new list to contain the names of candidates recently interviewed.

        The mayor said the June 1 opening has been tentatively filled with a candidate from the 1999 list, pending the results of physical and psychological exams.

        Bernie Naegele, director of the Norwood Civil Service Commission, said he is not as concerned about who the administration interviews as he is about the legality of the hiring procedure. Mr. Naegele said he will take documentation submitted by the administration to the commission to determine validity and whether a new list is legally appropriate.

        “I think the administration is fouling up on this a little, and I have drafted a letter to them explaining procedures,” Mr. Naegele said. “They play the political game here, and it happens to some extent with every administration. Sometimes, they don't like to follow the rules. We'll find out,” Mr. Naegele said.


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