New Albany poised to add lieutenant to police command staff later this year

Neil Thompson
ThisWeek group
Chief Greg Jones and the New Albany Police Department are poised to add a new command position, a lieutenant, later this year.

The New Albany Police Department is ready to add a lieutenant, a new command position that is expected to help police continue to meet the needs of a community that has transformed from a village into an economically diverse city over the past two decades.

The position, which is a first for the department in its modern era, was posted through Feb. 22, according to the online listing.

It was made possible when voters in 2019 approved a battery of charter amendments that included labeling any police positions above the level of sergeant as unclassified.

While explaining the amendment at the time, city attorney Mitch Banchefsky told ThisWeek that officers at sergeant rank and below were classified employees (meaning they can’t be fired without cause), but the chief was the department’s only unclassified employee. The change would help the department if it chose to add other higher-ranked leaders, he said.

"This lieutenant position is closer to a deputy chief position in most communities, which New Albany does not have," said Chief Greg Jones. "In addition to supervising our patrol officers and detectives, our sergeants are currently spending a lot of time with administrative functions of policing. Creating this lieutenant position will free up our sergeants to spend more time leading or training those officers on the street and even be in the field more themselves."

The new post had been included in the 2020 budget, among other positions, but "bringing on new police staff, including patrol staff and a sergeant, in addition to human-resources staff involvement in hiring employees in other departments throughout the city, made it difficult to address this position in the same year as those other hires," said city spokesman Scott McAfee.

"Now, with all of our sergeants on board and other functions being addressed across city departments, this position can be a priority," he said.

The position is a new one, though it might not be the first lieutenant rank in the history of the department. A lieutenant was part of the department about 25 years ago, when the department was much smaller, with eight officers total, according to Jones.

But the new lieutenant will "truly be a part of leadership command staff," McAfee said.

When the position was approved in the 2020 budget, Jones had explained that as the department had increased in size and expanded its level of service along with the growing city, and as the overall complexity of calls for service had grown greater, the department’s administrative responsibilities had expanded.

This continues to be the case, McAfee said.

"In short, this position will assist in managing the administrative load for the department with the chief while allowing sergeants to still have hands-on time with their patrol officers, detectives and staff," he said.

The job posting defines the lieutenant as "an unclassified employee who will perform complex administrative work directing the operational activities of the police department and is expected to abide by and enforce federal, state and local laws and ordinances."

The listed job responsibilities include "overseeing the daily operations of the police department and assisting the police chief in developing and carrying out the mission and vision for the department. Work is performed in conjunction with and in assistance to the police chief."

Some examples of duties listed included conducting performance evaluations, coaching and training, creating and approving operational schedules, assisting with the department budget and ensuring departmental records are maintained accurately.

When asked about the city's timeline for the hiring process, McAfee did not have an exact range but said it could be three to six months.

"It could be more, could be less," he said.

McAfee said the department would consider both internal and external candidates.

The salary range for the position is $104,140 to $130,175 annually, and the new hire would be eligible for the city's typical benefits for full-time employees, which include health care with a health reimbursement arrangement or health savings account; flexible spending accounts for general medical and dependent care; employer-paid dental, vision, life and short-term-disability insurances; and paid holidays, vacation and sick leave, according to the job posting.

Without being certain of exact benefit elections, including the fact that the employer's portion of the Ohio Police & Fire Pension Fund contribution is a percentage of pay, McAfee said a "ballpark" figure for the maximum value of benefits available to a typical city employee would be around $55,000 in addition to salary.  

When the new lieutenant is hired, the department will have 28 sworn officers, including its five sergeants and the chief, according to McAfee.

The department steadily has been adding officers to its roster over the past few years as New Albany's population has increased, both residentially and with regard to the ever-expanding New Albany International Business Park.

New Albany officially became a city in 2011 after surpassing the U.S. Census Bureau’s population threshold of 5,000.

In 2020, New Albany had a residential population of almost 11,000, and the daytime population, including the business park and the New Albany-Plain Local School District campus during the school year, was closer to 25,000, McAfee told ThisWeek last year.

Meanwhile, the approved budget for the police department in 2021 is $5,941,766, according to McAfee. The 2020 budget was $5,914,274, he said.

nthompson@thisweeknews.com

@TWNeilThompson