The Police Board of Commissioners has called for a special meeting on Oct. 18 to discuss the police chief search.
In September, the board hit a roadblock when commissioners were told by the city's legal team that two of the in-house candidates for hire, Detective Captain Anthony Palumbo and Lieutenant Detective Todd Chenez, might have disqualifying conditions. The promotional civil service list consists of Palumbo, Chenez, Acting Chief Douglas Haak and Lt. Salvatore Licata.
Commissioner Rick Abbott said the board has requested that deputy city attorney David Haylett and civil service secretary Mary Pat Holz both deliver written opinions indicating whether Palumbo and / or Chenez are disqualified from serving as police chief.
"Until we have something in writing about what's what we can't hire anybody," Abbott said.
The board interviewed candidates on the promotional hiring list on Sept. 16. The list was certified the same day and the board had 30 days from then to hire a candidate. According to Holz, if the board isn't taking up the question again until Oct. 18, it will have to request a 30-day extension of the hiring deadline.
In September, city attorney Allen Miskell weighed in with a written opinion stating that Palumbo, if he were chief, would be in violation of the city's nepotism policy, since he would be directly supervising his son, patrol officer Nicholas Palumbo. Simultaneously, deputy city attorney Jason Cafarella advised the police board that Chenez's residency is an issue. Chenez had said he would not move into the city if he got the chief's post and Cafarella said that would put him in violation of the city's residency requirement.
In light of those opinions, the board concluded that neither Palumbo nor Chenez could be hired, and it recommended the city Civil Service Commission decertify the promotional civil service list, so that it could move onto a second hiring list. The "open competitive" list includes retired Lockport police officers and officers from other departments as well as current Lockport Police Department employees.
According to Holz, the police board first has to offer the chief's post to someone on the promotional list, with conditions if needed, and see whether the chosen candidate would comply with the conditions.