Schenectady County

Proposed Schenectady budget cuts assistant police chief

Assistant Police Chief Jack Falvo may be demoted in two months if the 2013 budget is approved as wri

Assistant Police Chief Jack Falvo may be demoted in two months if the 2013 budget is approved as written, according to the mayor.

Falvo’s $125,054 position, as assistant chief in charge of personnel management, has been eliminated in the proposed 2013 budget. Mayor Gary McCarthy said the other assistant chiefs would absorb the personnel tasks, which include recruiting and running background checks to ensure the department hires trustworthy officers.

Police Chief Mark Chaires would not comment on the situation.

But McCarthy said the Police Department thought one of the assistant chiefs would be promoted to chief, leaving three others to continue as assistant chiefs.

“That’s what the department is assuming,” he said.

But McCarthy won’t hire any of the assistant chiefs, because none of them live in the city. Public Safety Commissioner Wayne Bennett is now preparing to run the department alone for however long it takes before one of the assistant chiefs agrees to move here.

If none of them do, under certain circumstances the city could eventually ask for a new Civil Service test in an attempt to find other qualified candidates. Three of the assistant chiefs took and passed that test this year; Falvo did not.

The 2013 budget includes money for the chief, but that money can’t be used to pay an assistant chief even if the chief’s position is vacant, McCarthy said.

“You have to have a position to staff it,” he said. “There will be a reduction in staff.”

McCarthy said Falvo could bump down to a lieutenant’s position rather than being laid off. There are vacancies in the department now, so bumping would likely not lead to any layoffs.

McCarthy also said that if an assistant chief moves to the city, they won’t be guaranteed the chief’s position.

“They will be on a probationary period,” he said.

During that period, he can fire the chief for almost any reason. He said he wants the next chief to make significant improvements, or he’ll fire him and hire the next assistant chief. He noted that he has three to choose from — or try out — and he’s confident that the competition will create results.

“You will see a dramatic change,” he said.

McCarthy has criticized the department for its solve rate, which is lower than similar cities, and the high number of unserved warrants for felonies and misdemeanors. He also wants officers to respond to calls faster and for crime to go down significantly.

McCarthy noted that the 2013 budget has not yet been approved by the City Council. Falvo’s position could be saved — or another assistant chief’s position cut — during the process. But he stands by his plan to eliminate Falvo’s position.

“That’s the recommendation in the budget. We’re going to go through the process,” McCarthy said.

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