Leach pulls name from chief#039;s race

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 29, 2005

Mark one name off the list of Ironton Police Department captains who seek to be the next police chief.

Capt. Jerry Leach, who has been with the department 21 years and is the interim chief, said Friday he will not take the chief's test. Leach said he would not be interested in the job under a proposed charter amendment considered by Ironton City Council last week.

The amendment, which passed but did not get enough votes to go on the November ballot, would have allowed the mayor to select a police chief from the five candidates who scored the highest a predesigned test that would not be limited solely to eligible captains within the Ironton Police Department.

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The mayor's nomination would have to be confirmed by city council. The chief then would serve at the will of the mayor and would further have to live within city limits or be able to move into the city within six months of accepting the position. The same changes would apply to the fire chief's position.

Currently, police chiefs are promoted from within the department's rank of captain and is dependent mostly on a civil service test and in small part on an oral interview with the city's civil service commission.

The proposed charter amendment did not receive enough votes Thursday evening to be declared an emergency- and therefore will not be approved by council in time for the November ballot.

While Leach said he understands that the amendment failed, he believes that council may return to the idea

at a later date.

Though the council may have its reasons for considering such changes, Leach said holding the chief's position under such changes does not appeal to him.

"I'm fairly close to retirement," Leach said. "I have no interest in working in a position for a political entity. I don't want a fiduciary position for a political entity that knows nothing about the criminal justice system.

"This is not sour grapes and I don't disagree with the ordinance in its entirety. But I'm not interested in working under those conditions."

This leaves three captains who have expressed an interest in the chief's job. Leach said he did not know if any of those three, captains Chris Bowman, Jim Carey or Dan Johnson, were aware of the ordinance or what their opinions of it might be.

None of the three could be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking to schedule a chief's test for Bowman, Carey and Johnson.

Ohio law states that in the event of such vacancies "the civil service commission shall, within sixty days of such vacancy, hold a competitive promotional examination."

Former police chief Bill Garland's resignation was effective July 4.

None of the three members of the civil service commission, chairman Dick Rice, Nick McMahon and Jo Ann McCown, could be reached for comment.