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Village Council

Carlson renewed as YSPD chief

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At its regular meeting on Monday, June 3, Village Council renewed the contract of Yellow Springs Police Chief Brian Carlson for another year.

Carlson, who is finishing his second year as permanent chief, will be paid $81,090 plus benefits, according to the contract.

Added contract language also calls for more frequent performance reviews of the chief and more significant consequences if he fails to meet Council benchmarks.

For instance, Carlson will be reviewed in three and six months. And among the new reasons the Village might fire the Chief are for “failure to meet the performance measures established by Village Council.”

At the meeting, Council President Brian Housh said Carlson has helped the department make progress despite what he called the ongoing challenges of local policing.

“In general, I’m happy with the efforts that Chief Carlson has made with turning our police department around,” Housh explained.

Regarding the chief’s performance, Housh noted in a later interview that Carlson’s most recent review, conducted by Village Manager Patti Bates, was “mixed.” 

“There were some things that were lacking and other things that [Bates] felt that the chief really excels at,” Housh said. 

Although Carlson excels at community engagement, concerns were noted in the review in the areas of “policy and planning,” Housh said. 

Bates said this week that Carlson’s most recent performance review cannot be released because it is not yet finalized. She also declined to comment on it.

Reached for comment on Tuesday, Carlson thanked the Council and Village manager for “the continuing support of our work.”

“We are such a unique, beautiful and progressive place and the YSPD is part of that story,” Carlson wrote in a message.

At the meeting, Eric Clark asked Council from the floor how an ongoing YSPD assessment, which is set to be complete next month, impacts the contract renewal. In letters to Council, several villagers, including Clark, had asked Council to wait to renew Carlson’s contract until the assessment was finished.

“We want to make sure that the renewed contract has the ability to absorb [the assessment’s] ideas,” Clark said at the meeting.

In response, Housh said that the contract’s “performance measures” will, in fact, largely from the YSPD assessment.

“If those performance measures are not achieved, then we’re going to start to think about a change,” Housh added later.

Looking ahead, Housh believes that more clarity from Council on its objectives for the department will be critical.

“We think more concrete direction around objectives is going to be really important moving forward,” Housh said.

Council member Lisa Kreeger agreed at Monday’s meeting, saying she wants to make the village’s aspirations for community policing “actionable.”

“We have a good vision statement but at many levels have not achieved as much as we need to,” Kreeger said.

Council member Kineta Sanford said that there will always be ways to improve, but that she was optimistic about Carlson’s ability to take the “next steps.”

“I think he has a mindset to continue to grow. I appreciate that,” she said.

Council discussed Carlson’s contract renewal in four recent executive sessions, according to Housh. In addition to meeting with both Bates and Carlson, Council  also spoke with police consultants Bob Wasserman and Bob Haas, who are working on the assessment, and incoming Village Manager Josue Salmeron.

By phone this week, Salmeron said he looks forward to working with the Carlson and that the two will “do great work together.”

“I’m excited to work with Chief Brian to create a police department that reflects the values of the village, and I’m confident that we’ll be able to do this together,” Salmeron said.

Carlson was named interim chief in early 2017 after Chief Dave Hale resigned following controversial police action at the local New Year’s Eve celebration.  After a search, Carlson was appointed permanent chief that June, and agreed to a two-year contract, with a six-month probationary period.

In her six-month review, Bates gave Carlson’s performance an overall rating of  “Satisfactory or Average,” with all factors rated as “Satisfactory,” except for Relationship With People, which was rated as “Exceeds job standards.”

“Brian excels at community relations and innovative programmatic ideas,” Bates noted of Carlson’s strengths. In the review, Bates also encouraged Carlson to engage in more regular communication and to obtain training in police command, among other recommendations.

Other items from Council’s June 3 meeting will be in next week’s News.

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