October 12, 2005
The Jackson Township Supervisors held a special meeting to hire part-time police officers at 8:00 a.m. at the Jackson Township Municipal Building. Members present were Supervisors Dave Bracken, Bob Stephens and Bruce Baker along with Secretary-Treasurer / Manager Dave Hirko and Solicitor Bill Barbin. The meeting was called to order by Dave Bracken, Chairman with the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag.
Board Roll Call was taken with all three Supervisors present.
Public Comments Concerning Agenda Items:
Will Michaels asked, in the last year or so, why are there so many police officers being hired? I realize that theyíre quitting but whatís the problem? Is it pay or other problems or what? It seems like a lot. Chairman Bracken said, itís to get better jobs. Michaels said, it still seems like a lot of people over a period of time. Whatís your average pay? Manager Hirko replied, $9.75. Michaels asked, how does that compare to everybody else? Hirko said, we havenít analyzed it recently but when this was set about a year ago, it was very competitive. Michaels said, thatís what I mean. Hirko said, I think with part-time jobs, whatís their goal? Their goal is to get a full-time job so theyíre constantly looking for full-time jobs with benefits. Michaels replied, I realize that but do other municipalities have the same problem? Hirko said, I would imagine. Solicitor Barbin commented, I talked to Cresson Borough and Cresson Borough has this problem. Hirko added, itís probably not just policemen but all part-time workers in general as theyíre always trying to better themselves. Michaels said, I can realize that but it just seems like a lot. Hirko said, it comes in cycles and if you remember a year ago we kept a whole crew for a year and we were fortunate and we had 5 or 6 who stayed a whole year together then we started having to hire again.
Motion Baker, second Brackien to hire Joshua Smail as a part-time police officer for Jackson Township. Supervisor Stephens said, Iíd like to comment. Thereís two things Iíd like to touch on. As I recall off the top of my head, we conducted interviews on August 11th, August 25th, August 31st and again on October 10th. Between the August 31st and October 10th meeting I sent the Township Manager, Mr. Hirko a letter pointing out that we only interviewed the number of people that we wanted to hire. I thought this was not a proper way to conduct business. I feel that we owe the applicants . . . . there was difficulty in getting applications in their entirety as the Township Manager had some and the Chief of Police had some. The total number was never established as to how many applications there were. . . .I feel that weíre opening ourselves up to a possible lawsuit by applicants that as far as Iím concerned werenít considered for employment. Thatís one. The second thing is I donít think that we get out and followed the procedure as defined in our Police Policy. Iíd like to have Mr. Barbinís opinion on this. Solicitor Barbin said, item number two, Chief of Police shall perform preliminary investigation of each applicant, including a criminal record background check and check of references. The Chief presents recommendations for interview. Technically, anybody who applies should be recommended to you. He should be telling you his feelings on everybody who applies. You would then make your decision. I donít know if youíd want to interview people but you should at least be presented with that information. He may have done that. . .I donít know if he has or hasnít done that. These two may be the only ones who applied who didnít withdraw but maybe theyíre not. I understand what youíre saying. Our Policy calls for the Chief to make a report on everybody who applies. Stephens asked, and concerning number three? Barbin said, once you get those recommendations, you make the decision. I canít say factually heís not doing that but the Policy calls for him to make a report on everybody who applies. Stephens said, in this particular case on the motion thatís been made, did the Chief come to jointly with the Supervisors to determine the suitability for employment Barbin replied, thatís not the Chief of Police, thatís your decision and as for the two here, thereís nothing to say that doesnít exactly follow the Policy. The only question Bob is, are there other applications out there that the Chief didnít tell you what his findings were. These two. . thereís not even an inkling that thereís anything improper about the process with these. I canít even draw an implication that thereís something improper. Stephens said, did the Supervisors decide with the advice of the Chief which applicants shall be further processed? Barbin said, I donít know what the three of you did thinking in your minds when you decided to hold an interview and the Supervisors decide to hold an interview, you decide which applicants to further process. Stephens said, I cited on I August 11th, the 25th and the 31st that the Supervisors at anytime could get out and have a determination in the interview process selecting those applications or the one that transpired yesterday morning. Barbin said, I canít answer that. Stephens said, Iím saying they didnít. Supervisor Baker said, no we didnít because the Chief does that. Stephens said the Chief did it. . the Chief had the interview? Baker said, or he recommends. Barbin said, he recommends to you and you decide to hold the interview. That sounds entirely consistent with Policy. But the question in my mind that I donít know the answer to which might be a violation of Policy. . . were there people who applied that the Chief looked into and he didnít tell you he felt they were unsuitable? You may have a question there and as we wrote the Policy, heís supposed to tell you that. There could be a legitimate question. . Iím not going to say he didnít do it because I donít know. But on the ones that came forward you guys decided to interview. Stephens said, hereís where Iím coming from. . .the supervisors under number three. . . the supervisors shall decide, with the advice of the Chief, which applicants shall be further processed. Now at what meeting is it on of record that we ever get out and decided which applicants should be further processed? None that I know of. Barbin said thatís after the interview. Baker said, so you want to have a meeting to decide who we should interview? Stephens replied, sure. Baker said, I donít think thatís the way the Policyís written but if thatís what you want to do, I donít have a problem with that. Stephens said, this motion should be tabled until we get out and go through the process. Barbin said, legally thereís no violation with these people. Baker said, no and I think the problem Bob has with this is, for whatever reason through the hustle and bustle of the Department over there, the Chief started the process with Smail. . .told Bob because Bob wanted to know when he was interviewed because he was going to be hired when he saw the agenda in the box. The Chief says, yeah we interviewed him. Bob says, no we didnít and then Bob made contact with me and in fact, no, he wasnít interviewed. I confronted the Chief the next day which would have been Friday and this was on Thursday and said no, because Bob Stephens and myself both talked to Smail and he wasnít interviewed. He said, oh . .it slipped his mind but he thought he did. . .it was in with the other stuff I was looking at to process the applications. The Chief started the process without the interview so he made a mistake. Barbin said, yes, technically wrong. Baker said, thatís what heís saying, he made a mistake so we set the interview up and we interviewed yesterday so it was going through the procedures. But the Chief did start the process without the interview, realized his mistake when I called him on it, but we set up a interview. I donít know what you want us to do with it Bob. I understand youíre not happy with the Policy we all agreed on so what is it youíre not happy about, letís change it and weíll go that way. Stephens said, I stated on August 11th, the 25th, the 31st and October 10th we only interviewed the number of people we wanted to hire. This isnít proper procedure. We donít have a selection. You either hire them or you donít. . . you donít have a selection. I think that we need a selection. We need to get out and consider every person thatís filed an application be given proper consideration without being discriminated against. I suggested to Dave Hirko that in writing that all applicants should be in duplicate where he has a complete copy of all applicants and the Chief of Police should have a copy. Baker said, but thatís not how this Policy works. This Policy tells the Chief that he does the preliminary investigation of the applicants and selects who he thinks we should hire. Stephens said, I agree. Baker said, if he reviewed an applicant that cannot work or be available Monday through Friday from 9 to 5 to go to Court or hearings, then obviously the applicant isnít what weíre looking for because he could never write a citation or uphold the citation in Court. So that way then the Chiefís saying, ok you canít make Monday through Friday. Barbin said, if when the Chief submits to you that recommendation for interviews, the recommendation from Him should include the status of all other current applications. He may have two or three applications that are pending that heís not done doing his review on but you would at least want to know that there are two or three other ones in the hopper and if youíre uncomfortable with a particular person, you donít have to hire him because there are two or three more back there that may turn out. When he presented a recommendation for review which is the last part of number two, including a listing of the status of all current applications, at least you would know what is going on and you should have an idea and that wouldnít be such a big deal for the Chief. . . keeping track of whatís there. Iím not saying a report. . Iím saying a list saying pending, pending, criminal record pending, references, rejected. . unable to work. . . just a list of the people and the status of that. That would at least give you a little bit more background information to say. . well. . .these arenít the only choices. Maybe these two guys are the best guys in the world. . I donít know. If this is the only choice I have, I gotta take it or nah, thereís a couple more pending in the hopper and Iím a little uncomfortable with these guys and maybe we should wait. And I donít think that would be too disruptive to the Chief. Baker said, to provide a list? Barbin answered, a list of the status of all the applicants. Baker said, for lack of a better term, a report on all the applicants that were brought in. Barbin said, letís say list instead of a report. . .report will make the Chief uncomfortable. Stephens said, hereís the question. . the Chief presents recommendations for interviews. Have we ever received a recommendation list from the Chief? Never. Baker said, no, the Chief presents recommendations for interviews so if the Chief goes through these two applicants and says hey, I think we ought to interview this guy, can we do it right away? But if he says I think we ought to interview this guy, ok, set the interview up. He does that now but he doesnít provide a list or in writing recommending that we interview so and so. But we do that. Stephens said, thatís the way it should be. Baker said, if you want to take the applicant, receiving the applications and stuff away from the Chief. . hey, youíre making his life easier. Stephens replied, that isnít what I asked for. I said he should have a copy of all the applications. . itís designated in here. Letís follow the Policy . . he should start giving us a copy of his recommendations for interviews. Somebody get out and set an interview up and Iím just told, so we have an interview and we never get out and made a decision collectively among our Board as to whoís to be interviewed. Baker said, so you want to add to number two that the Chief presents recommendations for interviews in writing? Stephens said, I didnít state that, but it should be in writing. Baker said, well, thatís apparently what you want because the Chief does tell us, hey, I think we ought to interview this one or this one and sets up the interview. Stephens said, well, he didnít tell me and I think Iím a member of the Board. Baker said, itís difficult to get a hold of you Bob. Chairman Bracken said, yeah, youíre not here Bob so how can he see you? Baker said, itís difficult to get a hold of you at times. Stephens replied, yeah, Iíll agree. . Iím pretty busy. Baker said, I called you Friday and left you know about the interview. Stephens answered, yeah. Baker said, I donít purposely keep you from anything. Stephens said no. Baker said, I donít and maybe youíve become complacent. . .itís just as easy for the Chief to walk over from the office and walk out and say, hey, hereís so and so and Iíd like to interview this guy and say, can I set the interview up? Yeah. .set it up and let us know when it is. Stephens said, ok, letís look at it like this. You called me, I got verbal concerning the interview. Why canít that be put in writing and put in the bin to be gone over? With this business of waiting till the last minute on a lot of things. . .in this particular case, the Holiday and the shortness but if this would have been handled to start with properly, we wouldnít have had a time frame. Interviews should have been conducted. He made application on August 15th and we conducted two interviews after that. . .after his application. We conducted on the 25th and one on the 31st. Why wasnít he considered then? Two interviews. . . .a special one set up and all of a sudden heís a potential possible candidate. . . .all of a sudden, and then we got to go through this process of having a special meeting, holding a special interview for him when this could of all been done ahead of time. Barbin said it was a mistake and people with a lot of paperwork usually make a mistake. Baker said, even if you put it in writing today for an interview two weeks from now. . .weíre going to interview him two weeks from now then for whatever reason the guy canít make it and calls two or three days ahead of time and says look, I canít make it. . I canít for whatever reason. . . now, we donít have time to correct that change in writing through the mail and weíre going to be back to doing something wrong again. I understand your concern and I agree with you on stuff but ultimately right here is where the buck stops. If thereís somebody that should not be hired, the Board still has control of that. Stop it right here if thereís a problem. You make your recommendations to change this Police Hiring Policy and honestly, we can change it. . itís not a difficult task. Stephens said, I donít think that the Police Policy was followed in a proper manner. . number one. . . . number two is I think we havenít interviewed some possible applicants. Barbin said, we havenít seen the results of all the preliminary investigations. Stephens answered, right. Barbin said, we donít know if anybody else was suitable or not. We havenít seen the results so you canít say. Stephens said, I think weíre opening up ourselves to possible litigation down the road if we donít change this Policy. Somebodyís going to file an application and want to know why they werenít interviewed. Baker asked. . .legally, do we even have to interview? Barbin replied, no. Baker said, obviously itís in our best interest to interview but legally we donít even have to interview. Barbin said, we went through a long time period before where the Chief was hiring, right? Baker said, thatís what prompted this Policy. Barbin said the Chief was doing the hiring himself and he was actually hiring and I think thatís a problem. Baker said he was doing everything but the physical hiring. . the Board hires. ..but yeah, thatís what he was doing. Barbin said, yeah but they were on duty at the time the Board hired them. . . .and now an employee is clearly not an employee when we hire them and heís not fired before the Board fires him. Stephens said, well I stated my opinion. You can proceed with the meeting as far as Iím concerned. I think we should table the motion and not hire them at this time. Barbin asked, is there anything wrong with these people? Stephens answered, not that I know of. Baker said, if we donít hire these guys, weíll be left without Officers on duty. A vote was then taken. Baker & Bracken-yes. Stephens-no.
Motion Baker, second Bracken to hire Edward Myers as a part-time police officer for Jackson Township. Supervisor Stephens said his comments were the same as the first motion. Supervisor Baker asked, you interviewed this guy, didnít you Bob? Stephens answered, yes. A vote was then taken. Vote-Baker & Bracken-yes. Stephens-no
Supervisor Baker asked, before we move on, is there something you want the Solicitor to change. . .what do you want to change on this? Stephens answered, I think we ought to get out and sit down before we have a public meeting. Baker said, this is a public meeting. Stephens said, I donít have all my writings down concerning this. . . .the actual changes. What Iím dealing with here . . .I made my statements that I didnít feel that the Board followed the procedure. . .the Chief didnít follow the procedure. Baker said, he admittedly made a mistake on this guy. Barbin said, and you stepped back and did follow the procedure. Baker answered, correct. This is the perfect opportunity to make adjustments or corrections to this. Stephens said, I made two comments, one concerning possible litigation or discrimination. Barbin said, I havenít heard what the discrimination is. Stephens said, the fact that from my perspective, we havenít get out and seen . . . I didnít say there was. . I said possible. . . .possible discrimination. Barbin said, but not knowing isnít discrimination. Stephens said, the fact I donít know. . .not knowing. Barbin said, well then everything is possible discrimination. . . .everything you donít specifically know about is possible discrimination. You can substitute possible discrimination for terrorism or unsafe or violation of law if youíre saying if I donít know, it might be something bad. Well. . thatís true but that doesnít make it so. Stephens said, Iím going to stand by what I said. Chairman Bracken said, well. . . Bruce is asking. .do you want to make any changes? Stephens said, not at this time.
Chairman Bracken announced that the Board of Supervisors next scheduled meeting will be held on October 27, 2005 at 7:00 pm at the Jackson Township Municipal Building.
Motion Baker, second Stephens to adjourn the meeting at 8:25 am. Vote-3 yes.
David M. Hirko, Secretary