Dayton police union opposes 2 charter proposals on Tuesday ballot

Dayton police at a city commission meeting. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF
Dayton police at a city commission meeting. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

The union representing Dayton police officers has come out against two charter amendments on Tuesday’s ballot that would change police hiring rules and elected leaders’ pay.

The Dayton Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 44 says it is asking the people of Dayton to vote against two of the six charter proposals.

The police union opposes a charter change that would allow the city to change what is known as the “rule of one” and select police and fire candidates from a larger group of applicants.

Dayton police officers in downtown Dayton. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF
Dayton police officers in downtown Dayton. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

The rule of one requires the city to hire recruits in the order they scored on exams.

Some city leaders and members of the police reform committees said changing the rule of one could help the city improve diversity on its safety forces.

But the FOP says the rule of one is not an obstacle to greater diversity on the police force because the police department has exhausted every examination list in the last decade, according to a letter from Jerome Dix, president of the Dayton FOP.

“This means every applicant who passed the required civil service test and pre-employment background check, polygraph test, psychological evaluation and physical has been processed for employment,” he wrote.

The Dayton Police Department says termination is the penalty when officers are dishonest. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF
The Dayton Police Department says termination is the penalty when officers are dishonest. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

Dix said the real problem is the city of Dayton is no longer the “employer of choice.”

“With the ongoing villainizing of law enforcement in the local and national media, candidates once seeking a career in law enforcement are reconsidering,” he wrote. “Those who choose the profession are opting to join departments that offer higher pay, better benefits and incentives.”

He said recruitment will remain a challenge until city leadership makes a renewed commitment to its officers and the benefits of the job match the risk involved in the work.

Dayton police officers. CORENLIUS FROLIK / STAFF
Dayton police officers. CORENLIUS FROLIK / STAFF

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said the city would benefit from more flexibility in who it can hire as police officers.

She said allowing the city to select hires from a larger group of top-scoring candidates should help in the long run with adding officers of more diverse backgrounds and experience.

“We’re the only large city in the state that does it this way,” she said. “It’s time for us to catch up with the times here.”

The FOP also opposes a charter amendment that would change how the mayor’s and city commissioners’ salaries are calculated, to tie them to the pay of the Montgomery County board of commissioners.

If approved, the change is expected to result in pay increases for the city’s elected leaders.

Dix said city leaders shouldn’t get a pay raise at a time when the city has been in cost-cutting mode and has frozen wages and asked for other concessions from workers.

But supporters say higher pay should help attract the best pool of candidates.

Members of a charter review committee that recommended putting the amendment on the ballot said the positions should pay enough so that more people in the community could afford to the commitment of serving in office.

Mayor Whaley, who is not seeking reelection as she runs for governor, said the mayor’s position should pay enough that people take the job seriously and treat it like full-time work.

She said some people right now can’t afford to run because they have a family to support and aren’t independently wealthy or retired.

But primarily, she said, the charter amendment would change how elected leaders’ compensation is determined so they don’t have a say at all.

Right now, a board appointed by the city commission approves their pay.

Whaley said this is inappropriate.

“It is never any good for elected leaders to vote on their own salary,” she said.

However, most of the city commission candidates who are vying for two open seats this fall oppose this charter amendment.

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