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Chester City Council is apparently not done discussing a new “recruiting and standards” position created by City Administrator Sandi Worthy.
At Monday’s regular meeting of the council, several council members said they were in opposition to the position’s existence. Councilwoman Angela Douglas said she didn’t even know there was a recruiting and standards position with the city until someone called her early one morning last week to inquire about it. Douglas said she called Human Resources Director Carla Roof to gather some information, but was told she needed to talk to Worthy. She ultimately found a listing for it online. The position was listed as “administrative” in nature and called for candidates with a four-year degree in police science, law enforcement, criminal justice or public administration, supplemented by 10 to 15 years of law enforcement experience, including recruiting, training and technology standards. The person holding the position would report to the city administrator and the pay scale is listed as being between $50,000 and $65,000. Two members of the public spoke about the position at the meeting and both said they understood it had already been filled, which several council members said was not the case. Douglas said she didn’t understand why the person in the position would answer to Worthy and not the police chief, why it was only posted for a week, why it was created without the council’s knowledge or why the pay scale for it is higher than that of the police chief. With the department losing officers to higher-paying jurisdictions, Worthy said it would make more sense to do away with the position and use the money ticketed for its salary for pay increases to police officers.
Last Friday, Police Chief Tammy Levister abruptly resigned her position after just over a year on the job. The News & Reporter has confirmed, since Monday’s meeting, that the recruiting and standards positions being created was at least one of the reasons Levister quit.
Worthy, who was not present for Monday’s meeting, said the new position was essential in helping deal with the training of officers and keeping them on staff once they are. She said she has made proposals to the council in the past to address the issues of training, officer retention, budgeting and other problems, but that the council received them negatively. Currently, the city has three vacant department head positions in the police chief, the finance director (vacant for more than a year) and the public works director. Worthy said she has been the acting zoning administrator for two years, has been pitching in with finance work and cannot add any new duties to go with the responsibilities she already has.
Councilwoman Linda Tinker said the job was “null and void” and that the council needed to move onto other matters. However, the council did not take any action in relation to the matter, which theoretically left Worthy free to move forward with a hire. However, the council has now scheduled a special called meeting for Monday. The lone item on the agenda for the open session of the meeting is a discussion and possible action on “recruiting and standards position.” The council will also discuss personnel items related to the police department, the public works department and the administrative department in executive session.