Plum Borough has a new full-time police officer, but some officials say they wanted more involvement in the interview process.
On Monday, council voted 4-0-2 to hire Daniel Moriarty as a full-time police officer in the borough pending successful physical and psychological testing. Councilmen Skip Taylor and Don Knopfel abstained, and Mike Doyle was absent.
Moriarty, 45, is a retired state police trooper and military veteran. Plum police Chief Frank Monaco said the new hire has worked in narcotics and knows how to work on investigations and paperwork.
Monaco said if all checks out, he hopes Moriarty will be sworn in by August.
However, Taylor and Knopfel said they abstained because they don't believe the borough Civil Service Commission was used to its fullest extent during the oral examination portion of the interview/hiring process.
Borough Manager Mike Thomas said regulations were followed "to a T."
Taylor said he believes members of the council and the Civil Service Commission should be allowed to sit in during the oral exam.
"Council was elected by the public, we are the checks and balances, and I feel we have been taken out of this whole scenario of hiring for the last two years," he said. "I believe the Civil Service should be able to sit in on those interviews and give their two-cents worth."
During this process, the commission administered the written test to candidates. The oral examinations occurred after those tests. Monaco said members of the commission didn't express an interest in attending the oral interviews, which were conducted by a board three police chiefs.
"They were more than welcome to come in," he said. "We banned no one. We have nothing to hide. We didn't do it at night or out at Larry Mills Park at midnight."
Thomas said all members of the commission were notified of the date for the oral examination. He also noted that the Civil Service Commission deals with disputes, appeals and greivances—including complaints about the interview process.
"The Civil Service Commissioners are the individuals that would be reviewing complaints about the interview process," he said. "You cannot have people who review complaints about the interview process interviewing people because you will not win that.
"They're umpires, not players."
The Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs is offering a webinar on July 11 on "Best Practices—Oral Exams for Police & Fire." One of the topics that will be discussed is the role of the Civil Service Commission during the interview process and why it shouldn't be involved in the oral exams.
Monaco said it makes sense to have police chiefs conduct the oral interview because a civilian wouldn't have the knowledge of police protocol and expected actions during an emergency situation.
"With all due respect to council, you all do your jobs and I wouldn't go up and test you because I have no idea what your jobs are," he said. "That's why they have chiefs of police. Whether council and the civil service agrees, what difference does it make? How would they know?"
Councilman Len Szarmach agreed.
"We don't need to micromanage," he said. "In my opinion, we have the cream of the crop in the chief of police and we have the cream of the crop in the borough manager."