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Mayor: Schenectady police chief to be named soon

Mayor: Schenectady police chief to be named soon

Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy will announce the new police chief Friday or Monday.

Schenectady will soon have a new police chief.

Mayor Gary McCarthy will announce the new chief Friday or Monday, he said.

His choices are three assistant chiefs: In order of seniority, they are Michael Seber, Patrick Leguire and Brian Kilcullen.

Leguire and Kilcullen have nearly the same level of experience — Kilcullen has been an assistant chief six months longer than Leguire, but Leguire was hired by the department shortly before Kilcullen.

Seber has much more experience, but the real issue has come down to residency. McCarthy wants a chief who lives in the city.

The last chief, Mark Chaires, lives in Scotia — but at least he was only a short drive from work. The three assistant chiefs up for promotion live much farther away, with Kilcullen commuting from Milton in Saratoga County, about a half-hour’s drive from police headquarters.

Sources said Kilcullen has offered to live part-time at his mother’s house in Schenectady but won’t move his daughter from her home and school.

It’s not clear how often Kilcullen would stay in Schenectady; McCarthy said he was “negotiating” with unnamed assistant chiefs over the residency issue.

McCarthy initially said he wouldn’t promote any of the assistant chiefs because they don’t live in the city. However, civil service law requires him to pick one of them because no one else took the chief’s exam.

McCarthy said he would leave the position vacant for a while — which is allowed under civil service law — and allow Public Safety Commissioner Wayne Bennett to oversee the department until one of the assistant chiefs agreed to move into the city.

Bennett is on vacation until Friday. He interviewed the assistant chiefs with McCarthy, but the mayor makes the final decision.

With a chief being named soon, McCarthy rescinded a cascading series of demotions that were supposed to take place Tuesday. The 2013 budget includes just three assistant chiefs — down from four in 2012. That meant Kilcullen, with the least seniority, would have been demoted to lieutenant.

That move would have bumped others downward as well, although no one would have lost their jobs. The officers with the least seniority would have filled vacant patrol positions.

Leguire was also supposed to be demoted, but the City Council voted last week to save his job — keeping three assistant chiefs in the budget — the council’s budget originally had space for just two assistant chiefs.

Leguire and Kilcullen’s demotions led to six other officers being demoted, McCarthy said. He was able to cancel half of them when the council voted last Wednesday. After deciding to promote one of the assistant chiefs, he canceled the other demotions Monday.

He said there was no reason to create such chaos when the demotions would be reversed as soon as the “extra” assistant chief became chief.

The move was “probably in technical violation of the budget,” he said, but he didn’t think it would matter for just five days.

“Actually, we’re saving some money,” he said.

With no chief for the first week of the new year, the city will save a few hundred dollars, he said.

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