The Cedaredge Town Board has scheduled an executive session for May 9 at the request of Police Chief Robert Yant. The chief wants to talk about comments made at the April 18 board meeting by trustee Ken Simpson which were critical of the chief's job performance.
During the April 18 board meeting, Simpson surprised his trustee colleagues with remarks critical of the chief's handling of security issues at trustee meetings.
Simpson also faulted the chief for the way patrol vehicles are parked when not in use, saying they should be backed into parked position to allow for ready response.
Simpson also said he had been told by a Cedaredge police officer that the chief had instructed his policemen not to talk with him (Simpson).
Simpson's comments came as trustees were readying to vote on normally routine annual appointments. The annual appointments include matters such as designating the municipal public notice posting location; the town attorney, town clerk; the town financial director; and the chief of police.
Obviously caught by surprise and taken back by Simpson's remarks, board members grappled for a minute or more trying to decide what procedure they should follow: whether or how to amend, withdraw, change, second, or vote on a motion to approve the appointments that had been made.
Trustees tried to determine whether a motion to approve an entire slate of appointments at once had been seconded prior to Simpson's comments about the chief.
Trustees decided that each of the 10 appointment items would be voted on separately rather than as a slate. All passed unanimously except for the vote on Chief of Police. Simpson and trustee Dayton Myers voted "no." Trustee Larry Smith paused momentarily as if to consider the question before casting a "yes" vote for the chief.
Following the vote, town administrator Katie Sickles suggested that Simpson put his comments in writing for the chief and the other board members.
Mayor Pat Means suggested that Simpson's comments might have been best handled at a work session prior to the regular meeting.
Simpson apologized, saying, "I didn't know how I should handle this."
Trustee Larry Smith asked whether Simpson's concerns should have been dealt with in an executive session. Closed-door executive sessions are allowed under the state's Open Meetings Law for discussing "personnel matters."
It was also noted that the town has an employee evaluation process that takes place annually.
Trustee Ray Hanson noted that the chief should have a right to respond to Simpson's remarks.
Chief Yant asked Mayor Means if he could respond to "being blind-side" and to "false accusations." He then said that he has never told any of his officers not to speak with Simpson, and he challenged the trustee to name the officer who had said so.
Chief Yant also said that other law enforcement agencies in the area do not have a back-in parking policy in place. Having been a law enforcement driving instructor, the chief said the practice "isn't even taught in the academy."
Simpson said that he had discussed the parking matter a year ago with Yant, who "did nothing about it."
The chief said there are better ways for Simpson to have handled his concerns and called his comments at the meeting "unprofessional."
The town board went on to conclude five other agenda items of business. At the second constituent time near the meeting's conclusion, Chief Yant asked the trustees for an executive session to discuss Simpson's remarks, and the May 9 date was set.blog comments powered by Disqus