MT. VERNON — The Fire and Police Commission will still be responsible for the hiring, firing and discipline of police and fire chiefs and assistant chiefs.
“I’ve listened to you, you have spoken, and I work for you,” Mayor Mary Jane Chesley said.
The council met in special session on Monday to decide if the responsibility for hiring and firing chiefs and police chiefs would remain with the Commission or would be transferred to the mayor, city council and office of the city manager.
“I was the one who initiated this review,” Councilman Dennis McEnaney said. “I asked the City Manager to prepare an ordinance for review at the May 5 meeting. ... Since that time, we have had a great deal of discussion internally and with the general public to get their feelings on this issue. ... by far, those at the (workshop meeting on June 20) and those we heard from leading up to that meeting did not want to move the authority from the Commission to the City Manager and Council. We permanently tabled that ordinance. However, there is still a difference of opinion in the public and a difference of opinion on this council. I believe we need to vote on this issue and get it behind us so we can move on with hiring a (police) chief.”
The city has been without a chief since February, when Chris Mendenall retired from the position. Assistant Chief Chris Deichman has been acting in the position since then, and until a new chief can be hired or named.
“I move that we direct the city manager to prepare a new ordinance transferring all legal authority to hire, discipline and discharge fire and police chiefs to the mayor, city council and office of the city manager,” McEnaney said. “Also, the city manager shall seek input from the commission on all new hires for these positions. The city manager shall be responsible to make recommendations on all new hires and discharges of fire and police chiefs to the city council for their review and approval. The city council will make the final decision on the hiring and discharge of the chiefs.”