Village Council establishes strategy for chief search
- Published: September 25, 2021
In its regular meeting held via Zoom on Tuesday, Sept. 7, Village Council thanked departing Police Chief Brian Carlson for his years of service as an officer and chief of the Yellow Springs Police Department. Carlson was praised for changes made during his tenure, including the addition of a community outreach specialist.
“I have always admired Brian for pursuing a career in public safety,” Council President Brian Housh said. “I appreciate that he was open and progressive, and I think it’s going to be a big loss for the community.”
Carlson took the helm of the YSPD after former Chief David Hale resigned; his resignation followed an incident after a New Year’s Eve celebration in the first minutes of Jan. 1, 2017, when four officers behaved in a way that was perceived as being overly aggressive and hostile to villagers. Under Carlson’s tenure, the department has undergone many changes under increased scrutiny from villagers.
“This has been a really difficult time to be the chief of police, ‘’ Council Vice President Marianne MacQueen said. “We all wish him well and thank him.”
Village Manager Josué Salmerón updated Council members with a timeline and process for hiring a new chief for the YSPD.
Carlson, who submitted his resignation last month, agreed to stay for 90 days to help with the transition.
Salmerón said he is “establishing a citizen advisory committee” to aid in the hiring process. The committee would consist of seven villagers appointed by the village manager.
In a response to a question from Housh, Salmerón said that he has reached out to various community leaders, current police officers and members of the Village management team.
“I was thinking it would be good for a Council member to be a part of that committee,” Housh said.
Responding to a question from the News, Salmerón said the committee would be diverse and include various age groups, members of the LGBTQ+ community and people from varying economic backgrounds.
Once the committee is compiled, they will have four to six meetings to review the job description and posting for the position, aid in candidate vetting, conduct interviews with candidates and help plan a public forum and other community interactions with the final candidates for Chief of Police, according to Salmerón.
After Salmerón’s comments, Council member Laura Curliss said Council should play a role in selecting the citizen committee.
“I think I’m the most qualified, being a former prosecutor,” Curliss said.
Council member Lisa Kreeger also said she would like to help review resumes.
Salmerón responded by saying that he has asked Village Solicitor Breanne Parcels to be a part of the selection committee. However, Parcels cautioned that involving too many Council members could create a quorum, entering all discussion into the public record.
Salmerón also provided a timeline for the process, indicating that a new chief could be hired as soon as early November. Other dates include Sept. 24, when applications will no longer be accepted; Sept. 27, when the hiring committee will begin to screen applications; and Oct. 11–25, when final interviews and a public forum will be held. So far, Salmerón said he so far has received one formal application for the position. Kreeger asked how wide of a net was being cast for police chief candidates.
“Is this a national search?” she asked. “How was the strategy derived for where this is going to be posted?”
Salmerón said that he’d looked at the benefits and potential challenges of doing more than a statewide search.
“We don’t have our own police academy, so that limits our ability to do that national search,” he said. “But we’re not going to close the door on anyone from out of state. I think it merits looking at how that credentialing process works.”
Salmerón added that he is working with the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police and the Ohio Municipal League to post the job on their websites and publications. He said that he will also post the job on Linkedin, Indeed.com, Village social media and in the Yellow Springs News.
In other Council business Sept. 7:
Wheeling Gaunt Statue
Village crews have been working on preparing Hilda M. Rahn park so that the Wheeling Gaunt statue can be placed. So far, crews have moved the flagpole and the gas line to accommodate future renovations to the space. According to Salmerón, the park will include a space for reflection, a privacy area and the physical statue mounted as a centerpiece.
“It’s a beautiful space,” he said.
Housh asked what preparations were happening between the Sept. 7 meeting and the Saturday, Oct. 2, unveiling of the statue. Johnnie Burns, Village maintenance director, responded that the hardscape and statue placement will be completed prior to the unveiling ceremony.
“It’s a real enhancement for the village,” Kreeger said. “It’s been such an incredible project.”
To complete the project, organizers have requested $25,000 from Council. Council agreed to provide the funds.
Citizen review board
Council continued its discussion of the citizen review board after receiving a memo from Curliss.
She asked Council to reconsider Exhibit F, which included citizen comments. She also said that she wanted to be more involved in the writing of legislation, and to meet with the lawyer that would be reviewing the proposal for the citizen review board. Kreeger volunteered to answer the lawyer’s question about the proposal.
“I think it’s helpful to have context,” she said.
Kreeger also responded to a memo from Stokes stating that the proposal for the citizen review board was “heavy-handed.” She said that pulling the plug on the project or calling it heavy-handed is based on incomplete information.
“It’s throwing fuel on fears or concerns that may not be merited,” Kreeger said. “I strongly support implementing a citizen review board.”
Kreeger also voiced concerns that Council does not want to move forward with a citizen review board.
“If we don’t have the votes to do that, let’s take it up when we have a new Council.”
Stokes responded that he wanted to review the current process for filing complaints against police officers before spending money to create a review board that would cost $42,000.
“I don’t have anything against the review board; I question the current iteration,” Stokes said.
To that point, Kreeger said the $42,000 was an estimate based on a certain number of complaints.
The program would cost less if there were fewer complaints.
Housh voiced concerns about the number of pages in the legal review, “which is costing more money.” He said he thinks that the attorney’s time would be focused on “reviewing the legality of the program itself.” He also said that he wanted all of Council to meet with the attorney to talk about the program.
In response, Curliss said that the extra pages the attorney will review provide context to the process followed.
“This is all work that the community has done, and I feel like it’s being suppressed,” Curliss said.
MacQueen suggested moving forward with a vote, and Parcels gave some dates that the attorney would be able to meet with Council to answer questions about the proposal, which would allow for public participation. Council voted unanimously to meet with the attorney to discuss the legal review.
Council heard a first reading of an ordinance that would outlaw housing discrimination based on source of income. The ordinance would bar landlords from legally refusing housing vouchers, such as Section 8, as income to pay rent. According to a representative from Dayton ABLE, source of income discrimination has been used to deny housing to minorities.
Stokes praised the legislation, saying: “We can call this a great big giant loophole that we are closing. It’s a win-win for everyone and people can get stable, clean housing.”
An ordinance to create a fund for COVID-19 relief dollars was given its first reading. According to Finance Director Matt Dillon, the Village has been granted $392,000, with the possibility of receiving more funds if applications from other municipalities are not submitted before the application deadline at the end of the month.
Council also approved three resolutions, with the first being a resolution to negotiate a sale of Village-owned property. Council would sell 5.2 acres to Cresco Labs for their expansion, which could add up to 120 jobs. The Village’s Planning Commission previously approved Cresco’s plans for expansion.
The second resolution authorizes Salmerón to apply for a grant from the Greene County Commissioners to extend a road at the Center for Business and Education, or the CBE. Salmerón said that a new road would make the 22-acre property more accessible and marketable.
According to Salmerón, the road extension would cost $200,000 or more, but a grant would offset those costs.
The third resolution allowed Salmerón to negotiate the purchase of property from the estate of the late Edward W. Oxley, who owned Earth Rose International Imports. The parcel in question would be transferred to the Village to ensure that the area, which includes the entrance to Kieth’s Alley, would be available for public use.
Other Village news
• Following a study of potential water leaks, Village crews have been able to mitigate four of the nine water leaks identified.
• COVID-19 cases in Greene County continue to rise as the Delta variant spreads.
• Council remarked on a letter to the editor of the News regarding buskers being an integral part of the community. Housh responded, saying that he understands the importance of buskers, but that he has concerns about keeping the sidewalks clear.
• Council members commended villagers for working to clear branches and shrubs from sidewalks.
• There was also a communication asking that the Village incorporate “bike boulevards” into the street planning.
• Council received communication indicating that immunocompromised people could begin receiving their third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.