DuBOIS — Sandy Township Supervisor Kevin Salandra made a motion Monday night that the supervisors promote from within the police department following the July 17 retirement announcement of police Chief Don Routch.
Routch’s retirement is effective today.
“I guess I’d like to make a motion that we promote from within to the rank of captain and evaluate that person after a year to determine if we should move them up to the chief position to run the department,” Salandra said.
“I’ll second that with some more discussion,” said Supervisor Mark Sullivan. “I know (manager) Dave (Monella), you took time to prepare, what do I want to call it, duties, job descriptions. I think it would be a good idea to include that in there, that whoever we promote would have to meet our expectations.”
“I want to amend my motion to include that,” Salandra said.
“And just for some clarification, I think, Dave you can jump in if I’m wrong here, but, some of the training programs that we have based on being a member of certain associations, to be a member you have to have at least a rank of captain,” Salandra said.
“What I heard more was it requires you to be a captain to be a part of that organization,” Monella said.
“And that organization provides us with approximately $15,000 worth of training in a year, and if we didn’t promote someone with at least a rank of captain we would be losing out on that free training,” Monella said.
“I strongly disagree with the motion, not that we wouldn’t want to do that or that we won’t do that but by making this motion if we pass that we’re obligated to do just that,” Supervisor Dave Sylvis said. “I think as supervisors our job has always been to look at all applicants and pick the best applicant from applications that come in for a job and my feeling is that you need to see what you have before, and like I said that’s not saying that we can’t do that, but if we pass this motion we’re obligated to do just that. We can’t even look outside of our police department and I think that’s wrong.”
“I feel that we have qualified candidates within our police department that have experience at running our department already that would drastically cut down on the learning curve, and that’s why I move that the motion move forward,” Salandra said.
Supervisors’ Chairman Jim Jeffers agreed with Sylvis.
“I believe we’re boxing ourselves in, pigeonholing ourselves to any possibility to any other applicants that might be out there,” Jeffers said. “I’m not degrading or taking anything away from our police department, we’ve got an excellent police department, but with the small department that we have, limiting to just a promotion from within, I think, really restricts us from seeing what potentials are out there.”
Jeffers said the township has been down this road before when Chief Bill Beers left his position.
“Right now our highest rank is sergeants,” Jeffers said. “We ran a department with two sergeants for a year and I don’t remember anything drastically occurring under their leadership until we were able to interview and decide on an applicant and make him chief.”
By elevating somebody to the rank of chief, according to our contract, the union contract with the police department that would immediately be a raise in pay and in rank, Jeffers said. If that person did not elevate up to the chief’s position and a chief came in, the township would have two options — either retain that rank, or they could reduce that rank. The township would not be able to reduce the pay raise that they would receive. It could reduce the rank, but the pay still would have to stay.
“I don’t believe it’s an intelligent move at this time without a need,” Jeffers said. “The $15,000 that was mentioned for training, that’s tax money, that comes from someplace it doesn’t grow on trees. So we’re still paying for it, it’s still coming out of someone’s pocket for tax money.”
Sylvis asked if there are any applications from within yet.
It hasn’t been posted yet, said Salandra and Monella.
“So you don’t even know if there is anybody that has interest,” Sylvis said.
“No I mean to answer that no I have not posted anything at this point no,” said Monella.
“But Dave, you are aware that there are people who are interested,” Salandra said.
“Yes but in reality though you have nothing physical that says that anybody even has interest,” Sylvis said.
Salandra said that it was his understanding from Monella that the position can’t be posted until the supervisors decide how they are going to proceed.
“We don’t need to do that in a motion in a meeting,” Sylvis said.
“If we wanted to post the chief’s position I believe what I would have needed would be an agreement to have that position posted,” said Monella.
“We have never went through a meeting to fill a job in the police department in the past,” said Sylvis. “If you want to create a captain’s job or whatever then maybe that’s a route but I don’t think you need a motion to hire somebody for that position. That’s our job. That’s your job.”
“I didn’t think it was out of line to promote from within,” said Sullivan.
After a vote was taken, the motion failed due to lack of votes. Salandra and Sullivan voted in favor, while Jeffers, Sylvis and Andy Shenkle voted against.