Harvard rethinks hiring policy

HARVARD – The City Council will consider amending its anti-nepotism ordinance to allow Police Chief Dan Kazy-Garey’s son to become a police officer on his father’s staff.

Under the current ordinance, the city can’t hire full time any individual who has a relative working for the city. But the ordinance doesn’t prohibit relatives from going through the interview process. Kazy-Garey’s son, of the same name, scored as the third-best candidate for an open position and is next in line because the two applicants ahead of him turned down the position.

The amendment, which council members will vote on in December, faced opposition from the Harvard Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 134 at Tuesday night’s meeting. Representing the union, Officer Todd Oczus read a statement of the union’s disapproval of the hiring process and the potential conflict of interest should the amendment pass.

The purpose of the ordinance “is not to prevent the hiring of a prospective employee,” Oczus read. “But rather to prevent anyone to be placed into a position where they may feel, based on a family relationship that an employee shares with a supervisor, [unable] to speak freely and to enforce discipline or praise based on their observations or the performance of another employee.”

Under state law, prospective police officers are put through a series of tests that are scored outside the department. Applicants also receive an interview score. Kazy-Garey didn’t participate in his son’s interview.

Mayor Jay Nolan said he thought the objective nature of the testing in the police department left less room for nepotism. “There’s a standard of testing. You have to be at the top of that list to be considered,” he said.

Alderman Brian Leyden said his initial reaction was that the chief’s son would have been at the top of the list, not third, had nepotism been at play.

In their statement, members of the FOP raised questions about the ethical implications of Kazy-Garey’s involvement in subjectively scoring other applicants.

“It is unfair that everyone who interviewed for the position of police officer with the city of Harvard was not afforded the same panel of interviewers,” Oczus read.

He and 10 other members of the local FOP signed the statement.

Kazy-Garey declined to comment on what the next step would be if the amendment does not pass.

He said after the meeting that he believes that, if anything, he’d naturally hold his son to a higher standard than the rest of the staff. “If anyone ever questions my integrity, they can look at my history,” he said.

Leyden said he wanted to hear from officials in other cities about their anti-nepotism policies before forming a final opinion on the amendment. Other council members agreed.

The next City Council meeting is set for Dec. 11.

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