Civil service test for Newburgh police chief being challenged by Cameron


Cameron (file): “… I believe
that it is blatant”

NEWBURGH – Police Chief Daniel Cameron has challenged the Newburgh
City Civil Service Commission’s announcement made by its Administrator
Michelle Mills that an open competitive exam will be administered for
the permanent police chief’s position instead of a promotional exam.
Cameron said the purpose of civil service is fairness in hiring practices.

“I believe the opposite is occurring within the civil service commission and I believe that it is blatant,” Cameron said.
Cameron was appointed to that position earlier this year, but must still take a civil service test in order to be named permanently.
In a letter to City Manager Michael Ciaravino, Cameron wrote that even though he was chosen as a provisional appointment, he would still be required to take an open competitive exam. “I request further explanation as to why it is not practicable to be offered a promotional exam.”
In his letter obtained by through a freedom of information request, Cameron wrote that he has “conscientiously served as chief” since January 10, 2015. “I feel that I have begun a transformation of the police department that has been noticed within and outside the department. I exceed the requirements that the civil service commission has decided are suitable for the position of police chief for people who have never worked for the City of Newburgh Police Department.” Cameron wrote that “I feel that affording me an opportunity to take a promotional exam is not only practicable but is in the best interest of the public.”
Among Cameron’s concerns is that the open competitive announcement lists the salary at $113,245 when earlier this year, the city requested outside resumes for police chief with a salary range of $101,598 to $113,245.”It is my understanding, based on recent council meetings that I have attended, that new employees should not be earning the salaries of predecessors whom have served the city for several years.” He pointed to the city council’s reduction of some employees’ salaries in the 2016 budget based on that justification. “The announcement on its face indicates that an entry level employee will enter the position at the top salary. Not only is this against what I believe is the general will of the council, but it is inconsistent with the original requests for resumes that contained a salary range. I question the motives behind this change.”
Cameron also said the current exam announcement does not list the residency requirement, which he said is in “direct contrast” with the city council’s resolution requiring new department heads to reside within the city limits. “I question the reason for the omission of such residency requirement statement on the police chief exam announcement,” he wrote to Ciaravino. “It is also my belief that if the caveat is not on the announcement then it cannot be required upon appointment,” Cameron said. He does not live in Newburgh, but was grandfathered in because he served in the department for 20 years prior to his promotion.
Cameron also pointed to the test announcement requiring two years of second line supervision when the previous police chief exam called for two years of deputy chief or five years of lieutenant experience. Since then, the position of deputy chief was eliminated and the number of lieutenants – second line posts – was reduced from seven to three, including himself. “I question the intentions of the commission, especially since the open competitive requirements only specify two years of second line supervision.”
Cameron also pointed out that the open competitive requirements include college, but the promotional requirements do not. “I urge you to verify with the civil service administrator that in various other promotional examinations within the police department there have been considerations given for college,” the chief wrote to the city manager. “So why was college experience not considered for this promotional appointment?” He questioned why “certain promotional conducted during our current civil service administrator’s tenure have allowed for college while others have not.” He said the current police chief requirements “are more restrictive for promotional candidates than they are for open competitive candidates.”
Mills, meanwhile, has called a special meeting of the commission for next week to seek advice from its attorney.