The Ocean View Town Council this week voted to approve a schedule for hiring a new police officer, who would be sent to the state police academy for training. Councilman Tom Sheeran told fellow council members that the Town would have to extend an offer to the candidate by the end of business on Feb. 13, in order to ensure the candidate would have a spot in the upcoming academy session.
“The next police academy begins on March 4, less than 30 days away. OVPD needs approximately three days needed to secure a candidate package to send it to DSP, who runs the academy,” he explained. “DSP requires approximately 14 days to prepare and process the candidate before enrollment in the academy. Also, the candidate must reside on campus during the academy. Therefore, they require time to attend to their own personal affairs prior to reporting.”
Councilman Geoff Christ said he supported the motion but was not pleased that the hiring timeline was up for a vote.
“I don’t understand why we’re sitting here debating on a timeline, when we’ve already given a mandate to the police chief and passed a policy saying the police chief can hire another police officer,” he said, referring to the motion passed by council on Nov. 13, 2012. That motion increased the authorized number of police officers from 7.5 to 8.5.
“Frankly, I’m a little disappointed that we’re revisiting this again… We passed a motion. We gave a clear mandate of what the council wanted the police chief to do. And now we’re sitting here, having to vote on it again. I think it’s absurd.”
Mayor Gordon Wood said he felt that the November motion was “very badly flawed.”
“We are in budget season right now. Because we’re in budget season, every dollar is before us for FY-14. I bow to the idea of authorizing in the budget, because I believe that’s what was intended… I will point out that I don’t believe we need eight officers. What happens if we have eight officers instead of seven? We have one officer on duty 32 percent of the time, as compared to 38 percent of the time.”
Christ disagreed, saying that Wood had put OVPD Chief Ken McLaughlin in a tight spot with regard to whether or not he could hire an additional officer.
“Regardless whether you think the motion was flawed, the motion was made and carried. We have a staffing level that was authorized by the council, and you used your authority over the police chief to put him in a precarious position to either not be subordinate to you or to not fulfill the wishes of the council.”
“That statement is not correct,” responded Wood.
“Whether you think a motion is flawed or not, you can’t keep bringing it up and voting on it again,” said Christ.
The council voted 4-0 to approve the hiring schedule, with Wood abstaining.
During the meeting, the council also introduced an ordinance to extend the date for the use of excess accumulated vacation for five town employees.
Town Manager Dianne Vogel recommended that the time allotted for those employees to use their accumulated vacation be extended until Dec. 31, 2013.
“In addition, I would like to have the personnel policy for accumulated vacation amended by ordinance and extend it from four weeks to six weeks,” she told the council.
The council agreed to allow Vogel to work with Town Solicitor Dennis Schrader to draft such an ordinance.
In other town news:
• A timer for the Millville Volunteer Fire Company’s siren near John West Park has been ordered and should be installed in the next two weeks. The timer will prevent the siren from sounding between midnight and 5:30 a.m.
• The Town recognized late Board of Adjustments member Cliff Embley, who recently passed away, for his dedication and service to the town. His seat on the Board of Adjustment will be filled by Jim LeGates.
• McLaughlin reported that the removal of the flashing “school zone” lights outside of Lord Baltimore Elementary School will be permanent, at least for now, according to the Delaware Department of Transportation. The lights were recently replaced by standing 20 mph school-zone speed-limit signs on the roadside.
“At this time, DelDOT does not plan on putting up another flashing light. We’ve received a lot of complaints. DelDOT has received a lot of complaints,” he noted.
• Town officials reported receiving a letter from local residents Barb Calkins and Christopher Dominic, thanking the Ocean View Police Department for their help after their home was robbed.
“We have a better appreciation and respect for the challenges they face and for the range of skills it takes to be successful at the job,” the letter read. “We want to extend our deepest thanks to Officers Ballentine, Spudis and Harrington, Chief McLaughlin and the Ocean View Police Department for their professionalism, skill, help and support through this difficult time.”