Reynoldsburg News

Police changes

'Term limits' will affect SRO

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

The decision to establish "term limits" for some assignments in the Reynoldsburg Police Department means school resource officer Katherine Mielke will be returning to patrol duty -- and that's not sitting well with some people.

Lori Johnson told Reynoldsburg City Council Nov. 26 that parents and school officials are upset at the prospect of losing Mielke.

She said council members should exempt the position of school resource officer from the new term limits at the police department.

"Officer Katherine Mielke will be reassigned to patrol duty soon, well before the end of the school year, when she has spent the last five years as a school resource officer," Johnson said. "If the police department is expected to protect and serve, I'd like to know just who they are protecting and serving."

She said there has been "public outcry and dismay" over Mielke's removal as a school resource officer.

"We, as parents and staff members at the schools, feel you have shown no consideration for the children," Johnson said. "I am here on behalf of many people who think the new term limit policy should exempt the position of school resource officer."

Police Chief Jim O'Neill said the decision to establish term limits "was not made lightly."

He said the changes were discussed by police administrators and city administrators, including Mayor Brad McCloud.

"We had input from many city people and administrators," he said. "We decided that given the stagnant nature of upward mobility in our police department that the only way to make any mobility happen was to establish some kind of term limits on our positions."

On Tuesday, Nov. 27, O'Neill said the effective date for the changes was dictated by the city's contract with the Fraternal Order of Police.

"Our officers' contract states that they bid on their work shift in November so that it would be effective the first Saturday of the new year, which is why we needed to announce that the term limits were going to be place, but won't be effective until Jan. 5 of 2013," he said.

"As of now, term limits are in place for DARE officers and school resource officers, which will be three years each," O'Neill said. "We are still in transition and development in term limits for detective positions. Based on the specialized nature of those positions, the term limits will be between three and five years. But these won't be put into place until January 2014."

O'Neill said during the council meeting Monday night the department regularly evaluates each officer who applies for positions.

"We make sure the people we put into these positions are well-trained," he said.

Councilwoman Leslie Kelly suggested "some kind of transition period" before Mielke leaves her assignment so she could introduce the next school resource officer to students.

O'Neill said the idea "is worth considering."

"We could probably put that into effect," he said.

In other business Nov. 26, council approved an ordinance on third reading to hire At First Site Inc. (AFS WEB) to redesign the city website. Money will be appropriated from several existing accounts to pay the company $30,000 for the redesign work, along with support fees of $560 a month for two years.

Council also approved paying $15,000 to Franklin Soil and Water Conservation to help secure grants for funding watershed improvement plans for the Blacklick and Rocky Fork watersheds.

Watershed Coordinator Kurt Keljo said he will also work with homeowners to encourage adoption of stream-protection practices to minimize erosion around the city.

Council members heard the first reading of a resolution that would revise the city's capital improvements plan (CIP), then sent it back to committee for further discussion.

City Engineer Matt Lambert said the 2013-2017 CIP lists possible projects for improvement around the city, including street repairs and replacing the roof on the street department building, which is estimated to cost about $265,000.

"We have annual street resurfacing projects listed in the plan, along with waterline replacement and other repairs around the city," Lambert said.

He said council members would have to approve each project and its funding.

"We add to it each year," he said. "What might seem a priority now could always change if something comes up that is more urgent."

He said city department heads make suggestions for the capital improvements.

 

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