MOUNT VERNON — An ordinance amending the number of supervisors in the Mount Vernon Police Department might draw the ire of the police union.
In February, council approved creating a patrol commander position. That changed staffing from nine supervisors and 20 patrolmen to 10 supervisors and 19 patrol.
At its Nov. 22 meeting, council gave a second reading to an ordinance that reverses staffing back to the nine supervisors and 20 patrol officers. The ordinance would have a sunset date of May 8, 2022.
Council member Samantha Scoles, chair of the Employee and Community Relations Committee, said the amendment is a temporary solution to getting more boots on the ground, something she said that MVPD officers have told her is needed.
“My thought was if we could put another person on the street, even for a six-month period, that will help us get through filling of five or six positions,” she said.
“If that happens, we will probably expect a grievance from the union, because we do have 10 supervisors right now,” Police Chief Robert Morgan said. “If we go back to nine and 20, somebody will have to be demoted.”
Scoles responded that knowing that the amended ordinance was in the works, she had asked about putting off an individual's promotion.
“Statutorily we could not do that,” Law Director Rob Broeren said.
“We are required as soon as there is an opening within 30 days to promote somebody,” Morgan added.
At the Nov. 8 council meeting, Morgan said that the patrol commander and administrative supervisors are already out on the road.
“Sometimes their office duties are getting pushed back,” he told council at the time.
On Monday, Morgan told council that the department has five unfilled positions. Since then, the department hired three officers through the lateral transfer program. All three will start by Nov. 30.
Three other positions had been vacant; however, one officer injured in the line of duty returned to light duty the first week in November. One officer on military leave returned Nov. 17. The third, who is on family medical leave, will return on Dec. 8.
“That has all of our people back to standard, and at that time we will be down two officers,” Morgan said.
Because they already have experience, the three lateral transfer hires will go through accelerated training vs the standard 14-week training program. Morgan said the goal is to have them through training in two months.
“If one of them or all three need a couple of extra weeks, we can extend that. If someone does a phenomenal job and is ready to go in six weeks, we can evaluate that as well,” he said.
The three officers cannot be counted as individual manpower until they have completed their training.
On the fire side of the city's safety services, Fire Chief Chad Christopher updated council on the status of the Gambier station.
The department started staffing the station on Oct. 1.
Calling them “rock stars,” Christopher said, “I'm real proud of our part-timers, the way they've been training. I'm super proud of our firemen for bringing them on and training them. A lot of respect goes out to our full-timers on making this happen.”
The department has 17 part-timers; three more will come on board Dec. 1.
Since Oct. 1, the Gambier station has had 71 calls for service:
•14 to College Township (71% EMS)
•4 Village of Gambier (3 EMS)
•53 to Kenyon College (23 EMS, 30 fire, 27 of them false alarms)
Before staffing the Gambier station, response time was 9-9+ minutes from Gambier Street.
“We've cut that quite a bit,” Christopher said. “Five minutes, 31 seconds is our response time since we've been staffing the station.”
The Gambier station's medic, Medic 492, has come into the city to help 28 times since Oct. 1.
Christopher said staffing the Gambier station is a big part of mutual aid. Since Oct. 1, the department contained a house fire in the village to one room, handled a serious accident on Ohio 229 that required air evacuation, helped Eastern Knox Joint Fire District on a house fire, and was first on-scene to a motor vehicle fatality.
Other highlights include:
•Bedroom construction in the station is expected to start Dec. 1.
•Township trustees come in and cook breakfast for the crews on all three shifts.
•The Kenyon student program jumped from five to 11. Four of the six new ones already had EMT certification; of the others, three are finishing EMT training, and three are starting training in January.
•Payroll increased $21,772 with the additional part-timers and promotions of three to lieutenants.
•The inspection of Kenyon buildings is ongoing.
“It's going real well. The guys are buying into it,” Christopher said.
During its legislative session, council took the following action:
•Gave second readings to legislation appointing Rachel Curtis to the Utilities Commission and Emily Marth to the Civil Service Commission
•Gave first readings to legislation authorizing the purchase of equipment for the water/wastewater department, supporting the county's active transportation plan, and amending the time limit for canvassing within the city
•Gave a first reading to a resolution appointing council members Scoles and Mike Hillier to the city's housing council
•Approved as emergencies the transfer of funds, supplemental appropriations, and purchase of supplies
•Waived the third reading and approved the donation of 63 acres on Thayer Road to the Board of Knox County Commissioners
Council also heard a presentation from MKC Architects about a preliminary parks master plan.