Thursday, November 16, 2000

New-hire policy questioned

Police ask Norwood mayor to use existing list, fill slots now

By Walt Schaefer
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NORWOOD — While Mayor Joe Hochbein said he would complete interviews with candidates today to fill three of four open police positions, police spokesman Sgt. Tom Fallon expressed dismay the administration is considering candidates who could not start work for about 10 months.

        Mr. Hochbein said the fourth open position will be filled any day. He is waiting for results from physical and psychological tests on a certified candidate who can be on the job after four months of field training required by the department.

        Controversy has erupted over the mayor's decision to consider college graduates in criminal justice who have not completed police training at a state-licensed police academy at a time the division faces a critical staffing shortage.

        The police force has 44 officers — four fewer than a full contingent under the city's labor contract with the department. Ohio requires police officers be certified by a licensed police training academy before being sworn in.

        Mr. Hochbein called the police concerns “alarmist” and said the department has more staff than needed to continue filling noncritical positions such as the DARE program and school resource officers.

        While the the mayor said Wednesday that he will likely whittle the list of candidates interviewed to five, he acknowledged that four of those finalists are not expected to be on the existing, certified civil service list.

New list coming
        The mayor said he expects a new certified list to be issued by the civil service commission after he provides required documentation and validation to the commission by next week. He expects the finalists to be on that list.

        Norwood Civil Service Director Bernie Naegele has expressed concern over 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.

        Sgt. Fallon has requested City Law Director Vicki Garry to look into civil service legal issues, including the validity of any documentation provided by the administration to have names dropped from the certified list and issuance of a new list.

        Mrs. Garry said: “I will work with the mayor, safety director and the director of the civil service commission to ensure the city is in full compliance with the law. We can't hire officers unless the candidates appear on a certified list.”

        Mr. Hochbein said he thinks police are upset because Chief William Schlie's son, Joshua, is on the certified list and that he has been passed over for hire. Joshua Schlie tested highest of all candidates on a May 1999 civil service exam.

        Chief Schlie said his son is a West Chester Township police officer, is satisfied in that position and has gained seniority in that department. Joshua Schlie took the Norwood exam before he was hired in West Chester.

        Sgt. Fallon and Chief Schlie denied the chief's son is an issue and said their sole goal is to have certified officers hired, whether the chief's son is among them or not. Any of the top 10 candidates on the certified list can be hired by the administration.

Time factor
        Chief Schlie said it is critical that any immediate new hires be qualified and certified. Each officer will be required to complete field service training while riding with another officer before assuming full duties.

        Anyone brought in who is not state certified would be required to attend a training academy and be unavailable for duty for about a year.

        Sgt. Fallon said it is not the police department's intent to exclude noncertified college graduates from being considered for jobs, just that immediate hires be certified given the staff shortage.

        The sergeant suggested the administration consider uncertified candidates for two contractual new openings in June and enlist them in police training academies now.


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