07/24/11 — Fremont board settles schedule issue between manager, chief

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Fremont board settles schedule issue between manager, chief

By Gary Popp
Published in News on July 24, 2011 1:50 AM

FREMONT -- The Fremont Town Board accepted a new police schedule created by Chief Paul Moats at a town hall meeting earlier last week.

Town Administrator Kerry McDuffie had notified officers earlier his month that he would be setting the schedule.

The issue was resolved in a closed meeting session Tuesday.

"There were some different thought processes of how a schedule should be written," McDuffie said.

Moats said the board eventually accepted his proposed schedule after making a minor adjustment to his mid-day shift.

"It is basically my same schedule," he said Wednesday. "In the meeting, they presented me with their idea and I said, 'This will work'."

"I feel like (the schedule) still addresses my concerns of 24-hour coverage and allows us to address the concerns of community members," Moats said.

He said that since he has been in Fremont, the department has not had 24-hour coverage or multiple officers working the same shift, issues brought up both by McDuffie and Moats.

Moats said having multiple officers working the same shift during peak hours of criminal activity is better for community members and the safety of Fremont police officers.

McDuffie said that Moats will draft the department schedule and it will be subject to his approval.

"I would prefer the police chief draft the schedule. Making sure the wishes of the town council get carried out should be the job of the town administrator," McDuffie said.

"The chief is generally going to write the schedule," McDuffie said. "He turns in a schedule to the town administration, who will approve or disapprove, based on the wants of board members."

The extent of the police chief's authority to oversee the four-man department proved to be a hot-button issue for Fremont residents.

The usually sparsely attended meeting was buzzing with concerned residents.

A handful of those residents waited outside on the sidewalk of East Main Street during the entire closed session, including Levi Cummings, 65, who has lived in Fremont for 38 years.

Cummings said he came to support Moats, adding that he has seen a drop in crime since Moats took office in late March.

"The new chief come in, and things have started quieting down," Cummings said. "They need to give that chief the reins, and let him go ahead and be chief. Turn it over to him, and let the rest stay out of it."

Cummings said he is satisfied with Moats' presence in the community in recent months.

The board met behind closed doors, saying the issue was a personnel matter. That did not satisfy residents, who wanted to know what was being discussed.