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Mayor vows safety won't be compromised



Published: Wed, August 17, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The law director said the investigation should be completed quickly.

JOHN W. GOODWIN JR.

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

HUBBARD -- Mayor Art Magee says police service to the community and operations in the department will not be affected by the placement of police Chief Martin Kanetsky on administrative leave.

Law Director Gary Gilmartin said Kanetsky is on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an ongoing investigation. He said Kanetsky could return to his position as police chief unfazed after that investigation or face a range of punishments up to termination.

A letter informing Kanetsky he was being placed on paid administrative leave was sent Aug. 8. He has been a member of the department for more than 20 years.

The mayor has appointed Sgt. Kenneth Oyler as interim police chief to run the department during the investigation. He said no new police chief will be considered until all issues concerning Kanetsky have been cleared.

"Ohio Revised Code allows you to appoint an interim police chief," Magee said.

Oyler and Kanetsky took the chief of police promotional examination Jan. 23, 2003. Kanetsky's higher score gave him the chief's position by law.

Reason for leave

Magee would not say why Kanetsky has been placed on administrative leave. He did, however, say the decision was not made solely based on an unfair labor practice ruling against Kanetsky from the State Employment Relations Board.

An attachment to the unfair labor practice charge filed by Fraternal Order of Police, Ohio Labor Council Inc. on behalf of Oyler earlier this year, said that when Oyler was approached by Magee and Gilmartin in July 2004 and asked to discuss Kanetsky's job performance, Kanetsky was "eavesdropping" on the conversation.

Later that day, the attachment said, Kanetsky and Detective Robert J. Altier met with Oyler, and Kanetsky accused him of disloyalty. The complaint claims Kanetsky said, "If I was vindictive, I'd put you on night turn and forget about you."

The unfair labor practice charge claimed that Oyler was then placed on an undesirable midnight shift as retaliation.

Settlement agreement

A SERB ruling agreed with the charge and ordered that Oyler be returned to the day shift. As part of a settlement agreement between the city and FOP, the city tried to make Kanetsky comply with the order by returning Oyler to his day shift.

"The city and the FOP further agree and acknowledge that despite these direct orders, the chief has not returned Sgt. Oyler to his day shift position," according to the settlement agreement.

SERB said the city "will notify Chief Kanetsky and will take action against Chief Kanetsky up to and including termination" if he failed to comply with the orders.

Gilmartin said the SERB investigation and findings may be a part of the current investigation into Kanetsky but at most a small part of that investigation. He said new aspects of the investigation cannot yet be discussed publicly.

Atty. David Betras, who will be representing Kanetsky, said he could not comment on the case yet but will be meeting with Kanetsky in the next few days to discuss the matter.




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