Niskayuna – The town of Niskayuna is asking residents to submit questions for Town Board members to pose to three candidates for the police chief position during job interviews Tuesday and Wednesday.
Special meetings will take place at 9:15 a.m. Tuesday and Wednesday to conduct interviews of Deputy Chief Michael Stevens, Sgt. Jordan Kochan and Sgt. Todd Frenyea, the top three candidates for the chief of police position.
Residents should send in questions by 8 p.m. Monday to town attorney Paul Briggs at [email protected]
The town has until Aug. 15 to name a chief following the release of civil service scores. However, Supervisor Yasmine Syed said the town may ask for more time to name someone to the position.
“Though we do have the option to request a 30-day extension, we have every intention to announce a candidate by the August 15th deadline,” Syed said in an email.
Of the three officers, Kochan scored the highest on the exam, with a 94.5, Stevens scored a 76 and Frenyea received a 74.
The test score for former interim Police Chief Fran Wall was not available.
“According to our civil service rules we are only able to provide information around our eligible list, those that are actually eligible,” said Joe McQueen, director of human resources for Schenectady County.
Some people “may remove themselves from the list, decide they’re no longer interested,” he said, or it “could be that they failed the exam, it could be for some other reason they may not have been eligible.”
Two Schenectady police officers also took the exam, but will not be interviewed.
“The Town is bound by the promotional list comprised of the three specified internal candidates,” Syed said. “The external open competitive list comprised of two Schenectady officers is not applicable unless there are not at least three candidates on the promotional list. In other words, if there were only two candidates who passed the promotional list, we would have been able to interview the Schenectady officers.”
Stevens has overseen day-to-day operations of the department since Wall retired in June.
Stevens declined to provide the educational or employment history for himself or the other two officers.
“This may be a better question for the supervisor’s office, I don’t want to provide information on any candidates due to the fact I am one,” he said.
Syed did not return a request for comment on this matter.
Stevens is still under investigation by the town, but the town has not provided details on that investigation.
“The investigation pertaining to Deputy Chief Stevens is ongoing and the town is awaiting the scheduling of a hearing,” Syed said.
The meetings are open to the public, she said, but could be closed for executive sessions.
“It’s my understanding that although the meeting itself is public, a Town Board member does have the ability to motion to enter into executive session pursuant to Public Officers Law §105 (f), specifically, to discuss the employment history of a particular person or for matters leading to the appointment or employment of a particular person,” she said. “If such a motion is made, it will also identify the matter as part of the process of appointing a new Chief of Police.”
Syed said she called Kristin O’Neill, the assistant director of the Committee on Open Government “to confirm that a candidate interview falls within the confines of what’s appropriate for an executive session” and that O’Neill said it was a permissible action.
O’Neill did not return a request for comment before publication.
The process would be similar to the one it conducted when searching for a new comptroller, according to the town’s press release.
“The supervisor, town attorney and I spoke yesterday about a robust process that will employ the behavioral interview process where an interviewee is asked to provide examples of specific situations and go through how they behaved in those circumstances,” said board member Denise Murphy McGraw in the release. “We have asked the members of the police department for their input through the Police Benevolent Association and if residents would like to suggest questions, I encourage them to submit.”