The trustees chairwoman says the committee's role was advisory.
By DENISE DICK
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
BOARDMAN -- Two members of a committee appointed to aid trustees in selecting a police chief charge that the process has been political because trustees haven't listened to their suggestions.
"I think the process has been political," said Glenn Bowers, former police chief.
That view is shared by Carl Massullo, former Poland Township chief and a finalist for the Boardman chief spot six years ago, who joined the current chief search later in the process.
Bowers was appointed to the police chief search committee by Trustee Elaine Mancini.
Trustees are within their right to hire whomever they want for chief without any search committee, he said. But if that's the route they want to go -- and he believes that's the way it appears -- having a committee of experts involved is just a fa & ccedil;ade, Bowers said.
Each township trustee appointed a member to the committee after Jeffrey Patterson left in July for another job. Kathy Miller appointed Dr. A. Bari Lateef, a retired professor of criminal justice from Youngstown State University. Robyn Gallitto picked Bob Bush Jr., former Youngstown police chief and a Mahoning County assistant prosecutor.
Massullo joined the committee later when some committee members were unable to participate in some of the steps.
All of the committee members say they weren't contacted by any of the trustees trying to influence their recommendations, but Massullo and Bowers have issues with the process.
Massullo agrees with Bowers that while trustees asked for their recommendations, they didn't follow them.
Specifically, Massullo and Bowers said they believe that one of the six finalists for the job, a federal agent, doesn't meet the qualifications for the job.
Committee members met in executive session last week with trustees before the list of six finalists was developed. Massullo said they were asked to step out before trustees made the decision.
Gallitto said she's maintained the same view since the beginning of the search process of what the committee's role is. "I've looked at the search committee as an advisory committee," she said.
Committees shouldn't do the job that trustees were elected to do, Gallitto said. She said she wanted committee members to review the applications, give trustees their summaries of what the applicants' qualifications are and make recommendations.
Gallitto says she didn't go into the search with a specific person or people in mind for the job.
Differences on qualifications
Bowers said that committee members met in executive session with trustees and talked about the qualifications that they believed were important in a chief. Some of those are experience with budgeting and labor-management agreements.
The federal agent, Patrick Berarducci, doesn't meet those qualifications, Bowers and Massullo said.
"I respect their opinion, but I disagree with it," Berarducci said. "I'll let my 32-year career in law enforcement speak for itself."
He has critical incident management and media relations experience, which trustees indicated they desire in a chief. "In my opinion, effective policing involves much more than collective bargaining and budgeting," Berarducci said. "I'm more concerned about the safety of the community and the safety of the individual officers doing their jobs."
He was also awarded the Medal of Valor for disarming a man who was trying to kill a police officer, Berarducci said.
Bush and Lateef say all six on the finalist list meet the qualifications.
Bush said some on the list of six may not have been included on his final list. He declined to provide specifics.
Bush said he saw his role as making suggestions to trustees. It's their decision to interview and ultimately pick whomever they want, he said.
No problem with process
He and Lateef disagreed with Bowers and Massullo that the process was political.
"Out of the 12 [phone interviewees], any of those six would have met the qualifications," Lateef said. He called the process very professional.
Bowers and Massullo contrast the process with the 2000 search when Patterson was appointed. Then, trustees hired the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police to sort through the applications and narrow the list to five. Trustees then conducted interviews and assessments of the finalists before they chose a chief.
"It was very professional. It was fair and it wasn't political," Massullo said.
They also questioned why the process for selecting a chief and the committee's role wasn't finalized or put in writing.
Gallitto said that if the committee members had questions about their role, they could have called her and asked. "They never called me to ask," she said.
Bowers also worries that if there are problems or criticism of trustees because of whomever they select as chief, trustees will point to the committee as making the recommendations.
Gallitto believes that even if that were to happen, voters and taxpayers would know it was trustees who made the final decision. "The buck stops with the trustees," she said.