Police chief search committee 'thrown under the bus'

Oct 30, 2012


My topic this week is the conclusion of the police chief committee investigation.

Did anyone think the investigation would turn out any different then what was claimed in the first place that the Police Chief Committee didn’t follow the Charter?

I have a different perspective on this whole situation. I think the Police Chief Committee was thrown under the bus and now they get to do a retake of going through the whole agonizing process once again. The process has become an embarrassing black eye to both the city’s leadership and to the city staff.

What makes the city think that conducting the search all over again will produce different results? Most people look for jobs because they are unemployed. The Charter states we can’t hire those folks. Fifty applications submitted and it comes down to an applicant who is in our own backyard.

There is a need to ask why the Law Director, who is well versed in the Charter, waited so long until the committee was about to select the finalists for chief and then announce, oops, the committee didn’t follow the Charter.  We cannot expect the committee to know what is in the Charter, but we do expect the Law Director to advise the committee as to what they need to know before proceeding in order to avoid any legal situations.  

Did the Committee Liaison or the HR Director, who attended every meeting, keep the Law Director and the City Manager up to speed?  Why didn’t Human Resources start checking backgrounds of the applicants so the committee could effectively do their jobs? Human Resources knew early on what applications were being tossed out and which ones were seriously being considered.  Basic background checks could have been done in time before the final selections were announced.

Staff needs to take the initiative to become more proactive in their jobs in order to work more efficiently. We pay huge salaries to staff to do oversight and monitoring in order to prevent wasted time and money.    
Until next time, We will never know what went on behind the scenes, but it appears the Police Chief Committee was not given the proper guidance or tools from city staff in order to work productively towards a better outcome. Lack of communication and teamwork is not an excuse for where we are at today with thousands of dollars wasted with no results to show for it.    

Sharon Johnson is a born and bred Sandusky resident who's outspoken about community issues. Her blog, chronicling her efforts to keep tabs on city projects, is posted here Tuesdays at 11 a.m.


T. A. Schwanger

This is a tough one.

One would think, as a City Commissioner and liason to the Police Chief Search Committee, Mr. Brown would have researched the specific language of the Charter regarding the Police Chief selection process.

Should there have been involvement from the Law Director? Absolutely, from the stand point of at least providing Charter language to Mr. Brown and committee.

Common sense dictates the search committee must have generated a top 10 list of candidates. That being said, move up the necessary candidates from the top 10 list to meet the Charter requirement of 3 candidates for the City Manager's review.

For certain, the next Police Chief must be experienced and have the ability to address the recommendations provided by the ICMA Study to correct remaining deficiencies within the Police Department.

To research the ICMA Study, go to the City of Sandusky's web-page and search ICMA. The ICMA Report will be the second link.


Perhaps Mr Brown is not the problem as much as Icsman and company who should have KNOWN the problems and pointed them out. Is he not the expert in all this?

It is a bit early to worry about the ICMA study as that will be the problem of the next chief to handle anyway is it not? I am sure that if the new chief of police reads the ICMA study, he will be sure to impliment those ideas as he sees fit. It is, after all, his responsibility and not that of anyone else, including the public.

That study was meant to be implimented by the Chief of Police was it not?


Every project needs a project manager. This project seemingly, hasn't had one.


It isn't often that I agree with Sharon, but this time I do. We pay Mr Icsman and the other top people in this community BIG BUCKS to do their jobs and where where they when this search was going on? Why didn't they do THEIR jobs when the non-informed committee and Mr. Brown were searching for people?

It is really their fault, not the committee and Mr. Brown, who DEPENDED on those in the "know" for not telling them the "lay of the land" when that is their JOBS. Shame on them for not doing what was necessary from the word go. Why is it that every single time something "legal" comes up, they are caught with their collective "pants" down, snoozing or not up to snuff? And yet we continue to pay them for their work? I am with Sharon. We threw the committee under the bus while the legal eagles got away scott free from condemnation of any kind.

This time, they best do their jobs efficiently and correctly. I would like to know why the "attorney" for whom we paid a pretty penny, did not point out the obvious.....the attoreny and they human resources failed to lead the committee on legal points when conducting this so called investigation? It seems to me that legal advice on investigations SHOULD have pointed that out as it was parimount in its findings, yet nothing was mentioned at all. Why is that? Yet another circling of the wagons when an attorney and others screw up? Just wondering out loud.

This time, Icsman and company should be doing what is necessary to guide, council and recommend EXACTLY what this committee needs in locating what is needed to select the people for the chief of police. If not, then maybe it is time to find people to replace the legal eagles who can do a better job. Just saying....when the core is rotten, the apple goes.


I don't think it is Icsman's job to hold anyones hand. I think the whole bunch on the commission is incapable of getting their head out of uh the sand. Though Icsman could've been a bit more clear before it came to this. And the first screw up here was the committee bringing forth names that did not meet the guidelines. Maybe ard should have been more involved in explaining the charter to the people involved in the selection process. There is plenty of blame to pass around here.


The committee was made up of ordinary citizens - not lawyers. Even if you are picked for a jury - the judges gives you instructions before you deliberate. I think it WAS the city's attorney or at least manager to give the committee "instructions" on at least the requirements that are needed be accept the position of Chief of Police. Without the proper instructions, it would be hard to follow the rules of the charter on this issue. You said that the committee screwed up first by bring names that didn't meet the guidelines. Maybe the city attorney should have instructed them on the guidelines at the beginning of the process???


I totally agree with all these statements. Exactly right


Whether it's the law director's fault or the committee's fault it doesn't really matter. It's just a normal happening in Sandusky. This town can't get out of it's own way to find the path to credibility.


It seems no one at city hall will accept accountability. When too much money is going out the door because someone can't do their job, it is time to get rid of them. When the ball has been fumbled, it is time for elected leaders to step up to the plate and lead!!! This is one time I would welcome an executive session for a good old fashion reprimand.


And who do we reprimand? Icsman, Brown, who? According to the report no one did anything wrong! That is what kills me about this. All it says is that they didn't follow the charter so who gets nailed for this? It seems to me that Icsman is the one who SHOULD have known and said nothing, but his name isn't mentioned even ONCE in that report. Why is that?


I disagree. While Mr. Iscman should certainly know the entire City Charter, Commissioners should at a MINIMUM know the Charter requirements, etc. for their own area of responsibility. That the Police Chief Search Committee went off on an irresponsible tangent is bad enough, but that it flew in the face of Charter requirements is inexcusable.

That being said, how is it that we can be certain Commissioners DO know what they need to know in their area(s) of responsibility? Mr. Iscman should be going over it with them and answering any questions since he's supposed to be the legal expert where City matters are concerned and, in theory, supposed to ensure the City (including its many representatives) are adhering to the law. That he didn't seems to me to be as much a breach of responsibility as are any actions (or lack of them) on the Committee's part!


When unexcuated city persons take on a responsibility, it is somewhat their responsibility to LEARN what is necessary. But it is the RESPONSIBILITY of those in the KNOW to educate them. That means Icsman and company and the city commissioner in charge does it not? If the city commissioner does not know the charter, then he or she better read up on it pretty quickly as it is his or her responisibility to quide this group AS IS Icsman and group. None of that appears to have been done even in the slightest. I don't blame the uneducated civilians here if they were not lead in the right direction by those in the know.