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Published: Tuesday, 8/31/2010

Sylvania Twp. police union files promotion grievance

In Sylvania Township, receiving promotions are, from left, police sergeants Ron Dicus and David Jankowski, and firefighters Capt. Scott Smith and Lt. Chad Morris. In Sylvania Township, receiving promotions are, from left, police sergeants Ron Dicus and David Jankowski, and firefighters Capt. Scott Smith and Lt. Chad Morris.

Two Sylvania Township police patrolmen were officially promoted to sergeant during a recent pinning ceremony before the township trustees, and the fire department completed two promotions in similar fashion shortly afterward.

But the police promotions, as expected, have been grieved by the patrolmen's union on the grounds that Police Chief Robert Metzger used test results more than two years old to make his selections, in violation of policy the chief himself had established.

The wives of newly promoted police Sgts. Ronald Dicus and David Jankowski pinned their husbands' new badges to their uniforms during the Aug. 17 ceremony, after which the wives of fire Capt. Scott Smith and Lt. Chad Morris did the same for their spouses.

Carol Contrada, the township trustees' president, said afterward that a meeting that day of township and labor officials had been "very productive" toward resolving disagreement about police promotion policy and how officers are notified of policy changes.

Mr. Metzger said, "It was more a clarification than anything else."

But Justin Burnard, the lawyer for the Ohio Patrolmen's Benevolent Association union local representing the township police, said the meeting related only to the policy's future applicability, and the disagreement over the most recent promotions persists.

On Aug. 18, Patrolman Sarah Toth filed a grievance against the promotions of Mr. Dicus and Mr. Jankowski, stating that they violated at least three sections and a rider of the union's labor contract with the township.

The grievance asked the township to "rescind the promotions and embark upon a new promotional exam and selection process that complies with the contract, that is fair and unbiased, and does not discriminate against the grievant or any other employee."

Mr. Burnard declined to comment further on the proceedings last week, citing the active grievance.

He had urged the township trustees in late July to reconsider the promotions on the grounds that the results of a promotional exam administered in the police department in April, 2008, were no longer valid based on a two-year expiration deadline the chief had established later that year.

Mrs. Contrada responded that the promotions would have been granted sooner if not for previous grievances and litigation involving the police department, and that furthermore the two-year policy was invalid because the trustees had never approved it.

The dispute left Mr. Dicus, who was the union's president, in the paradoxical position of opposing his own promotion, although having officially become a sergeant he is no longer a member of the patrolmen's union. Mr. Dicus had said after the July discussion that "the fairest thing would be for everybody to be able to take the test again."

The fire department promotions are not contested. Lieutenant Morris was promoted from firefighter-paramedic, and Captain Scott was promoted from lieutenant and will be placed in charge of the fire department's training and safety operations.

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