Giza to take role as police officer
Lancaster Supervisor Dino Fudoli voted against the resolution, supporting those residents who thought the process to hire candidates was unjust.
“My no vote on this was not about the candidate, but about the process and simply for that reason I could not support this resolution,” Fudoli said. “Sixteen candidates were canvassed, they all responded and were interested in the job, and only two were interviewed. The guy that scored a perfect 100 was not even interviewed in this process. I have a problem with that. This is not filling a seasonal lawn cutting position at the town parks. This is somebody who is going to carry a badge and a gun in our town for the next 30 years. So, I take this very seriously.”
The concerns raised by residents were focused on the civil service portion of the process for hiring the candidate.
Tom Kaspryzak remarked if he was the individual who tested perfectly, and obviously was interested in the job, he would be angry and bitter at this town board for not being able to at least get an interview.
“What this does is it gives the illusion of patronage. Sorry to say that,” he said.
Town of Lancaster Council Member John Abraham said he did discuss the hiring process with Lancaster Police Chief Gerald J. Gill Jr.
“The chief said all aspects of the civil service process were followed accurately,” Abraham stated. “There were no discrepancies in the way the process was conducted. The candidate in question did not only pass the written test for the civil service, but also passed an out of town psychiatric evaluation.”
It was stated Giza did not test pass with a perfect score but ranked in the 90’s.
Lancaster Capt. Marco Laurienzo said only 14 candidates qualified and 12 of them expressed interested in being on the force. He also stated that there was no certified police officer who expressed interest in the position.
“Everybody that was eligible was canvassed, everybody was given applications, all the applications were reviewed, and the two top candidates were interviewed. Everyone was given background checks and everybody was equally considered,” Capt. Laurienzo remarked.
Lancaster resident Lee Chowaniec said the only thing he finds strange is that only two candidates were interviewed.
According to the Lancaster Town Attorney, John Dudziak, three candidates do not have to be interviewed and Chief Gill does not have to explain to the board or to anybody else who he is going to hire.
“That’s the power the police chief has. It is the board’s job to consummate that decision and to ratify it,” Dudziak said.
Chowaniec also questioned whether this position needs to be filled.
“The question was posed to the police chief and we asked him directly, ‘Can you deal with one less officer?’ and his answer was no,” Lancaster Council Member Ronald Ruffino said.
Currently, the police force has 49 sworn-in officers with a budget that allows for 50. Fudoli said the force could decrease by one officer if need be; however, even with the hiring of Giza, the force will remain at 49 due to the retirement of Capt. Timothy R. Murphy on Friday.
Another question posed by Lancaster resident Carmen Hangauer was if the board could table the resolution until the next meeting due to the fact that Chief Gill was not in attendance at the meeting.
However the police academy begins Aug. 6, creating a time constraint for the board to ensure Giza is enrolled into the academy.
Hangauer added she is a little surprised that conversation didn’t take place between each board member and the chief.
“I would prefer not to know because I don’t want politics to get involved in this,” Lancaster Council Member Donna Stempniak said. “I want to see what his [the chief] recommendation is based on how he wants to do it and then we can act on it.”
The result of the vote sparked some tensions between town board members, Fudoli and Stempniak. Fudoli accused the town board of not doing their homework.
“You have an obligation to ask the questions,” Fudoli told Stempniak. “When I spoke to you, you didn’t even know the answers. Your job on the town board is to represent the tax payers. It is not our job to interview, but it is our job to be responsible to the taxpayers. It about time this board starts being responsible to the tax payers.”
Stempniak said the board did their job by hiring a police chief that she has every confidence in to make a decision.
After observing the controversy, Giza said he strives to make the Town of Lancaster proud.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Giza remarked. “I’ve lived here my whole life and I’m very excited to be able to serve this town, to give back and I fully intend to do that.”
He declined to speak on the matters raised by residents.
Looking to the future Fudoli hopes the town will explore making a policy that improves the process at which officers are selected so that the town is receiving the best candidate.
The next Town of Lancaster Board meeting will be held at 8 p.m. Monday, Aug. 6, in the town hall, 21 Central Ave., Lancaster.