Genoa officials will begin the search for a new police chief soon but remain mum on former Police Chief Randy Hill’s abrupt departure.
“I hope to begin advertising soon,” Mayor Mark Williams said Monday evening. “I don’t know if we will be able to advertise before the first of the year – but I would like to.”
Hill officially left office Dec. 10. Williams informed village councilmembers of the resignation five days earlier at the regular session of council. Hill had turned in a resignation letter to the mayor who oversees the chief’s position.
Prior to the resignation, Hill had been placed on administrative leave Nov. 16. The mayor, Administrator Garth Reynolds and councilmen contacted would not comment specifically on reasons surrounding Hill’s leave and subsequent departure.
“He left on his own,” Williams responded, when asked if there was a deal in place that prompted Hill’s move. “He received his accumulated sick time and vacation days but nothing else. There was no other payment to him other than that.”
Before hiring a new police chief, the safety committee must meet to discuss the position and set candidate guidelines, the mayor said.
The management of the police department has been under scrutiny for some time after Hill took the position in October, 2008. Early complaints surrounded the chief’s handling of traffic citations as well as policing bars downtown.
Then in the spring of this year, the town was abuzz with talk after complaint letters from Hill’s police force members were given to a councilman. They were then forwarded to Ottawa County Sheriff Bob Bratton for review.
According to Bratton, the officers outlined a number of things they saw as problems including lack of communication, a hostile work environment, poor leadership, neglect of duty, and misfeasance.
Officers addressed everything from how the chief wrote them up by email constantly and his handling of the bike patrol to where he lunched outside of village limits.
A number of the more serious complaints regarded possible misconduct and harassment. Officers cited Hill’s barrage of write-ups for the handling of cases to grammar in their reports as one of the main problems.
The village later hired a consulting firm to review the issues. But as of early November, nothing official had been discussed in public session.
That leaves the Genoa police force with three full-time officers and a part-time officer to manage the workload.
“The village is covered. That is not a problem,” Williams noted.
Sgt. Todd Mocniak is the person in charge of the department until a new chief is hired.
“He is not the interim chief,” Williams explained. “He does not have that title. But he is the person in charge for now.”
Mayor Williams hopes for a smooth transition. However, others see the brewing turmoil of recent months as a major hurdle to overcome in the hiring process.
“It’s kind a sad thing,” said Bratton, who is also a Genoa resident. “Until they get things straightened out over there between the mayor and the council they are not going to have a decent candidate. No one wants to come into that kind of situation. I see the guys out there and they are patrolling, but I know it’s tough for them,” he said.
The sheriff has also received complaints from the merchants in town who are hoping village officials can resolve the in-fighting and focus on preventing crime and keeping the community safe.