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Homestead Civil Service testing issues unresolved

| Wednesday, April 17, 2013, 2:56 a.m.

Homestead is discussing the possibility of hiring another part-time police officer to its police force.

Borough officials talked about the status of the hiring process last week.

“In regards to the new police officer, we still haven't received our list from the Civil Service Commission,” Councilwoman Zaneta Hines said.

Homestead Civil Service Commission chairman Duane Schulte told council he called borough manager Ian McMeans eight times about the status of the Civil Service testing and never got a call back.

Schulte said the written test for a new part-time officer was given and he talked to McMeans after that. He said he told McMeans to contact him if he needed any help to get law enforcement contacts for the oral interview exams.

“When we talked, his response to me was, ‘I don't want to use any local officials because I don't want anything tainted with this process. So I am going to get officials from outside the area,'” Schulte said. “That's the last communication I had from him.”

“We didn't hire last year either and we were budgeted,” Homestead police Chief Jeff DeSimone said. “You're telling me this process has been going on for two years?”

Schulte said there was re-testing last fall.

Councilman Drew Borcik said the borough Civil Service Commission usually conducts the process, but now the borough manager is handling it.

Schulte said McMeans indicated he was going through with procedures to hire a new officer and should have called him if he was overwhelmed with work.

Councilman Lloyd Cunningham questioned how the borough manager is involved with the hiring process of a new officer if the Civil Service Commission is an independent body from council.

“There's no reason for the borough to be doing it,” Homestead solicitor Bernie Schneider said. “But if the commission wanted it done by the borough, the borough has a duty to do that. The manager has no independent right to insert himself into the process if the commission doesn't want him inserted into the process.”

Cunningham said if the Civil Service Commission isn't getting satisfaction out of McMeans, it needs to handle the officer applicants itself.

Schulte said maybe someone is telling McMeans to delay the process.

“I'm willing to take it over 100 percent because it's been dragging on for too long,” he said. “But I don't know what the current status is.”

McMeans said he hasn't got together a full interview committee yet. He apologized for not returning Schulte's call because he said he has been overwhelmed with work recently.

“There was an issue that developed with the last promotional exam,” Schulte said. “I don't necessarily need to go into detail now, but I wanted that test thrown out. I didn't have the votes. I don't know if the borough manager told council what went on, but I'm not going to discuss that now.”

He declined to elaborate after the meeting why he wanted the last promotional exam thrown out.

Council promoted two officers to corporals and one corporal to sergeant in March 2012.

Borcik said council just found out Thursday night that one of the candidates complained that another candidate went to the bathroom for approximately 15 minutes during the written exam and could have used a smartphone to look up answers.

Borcik said he spoke to Civil Service Commission solicitor George Gobel about the complaint on Friday.

“The solicitor said, ‘There's nothing in your rules or regulations that prohibit that,'” he said. “He said we were free to add that if we felt there was a problem.”

Borcik said there's no proof that one of the candidates used his phone to look up answers.

Stacy Lee is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1970, or