Fairfield Police Department to make more changes near the top

Three Fairfield police officers will no longer be part of a collective bargaining unit if the State Employee Relations Board approves a reclassification change.

City Council unanimously approved to reclassify the three lieutenant positions as major and designate Lt. Greg Valandingham, Lt. Ken Gerald and Lt. Amy Mays as deputy police chief.

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The change was pursued because people in these positions were put in an awkward position being confidants of the police chief yet members of one of the two Fairfield police unions, according to city officials.

“After consultation with the Fraternal Order of Police it was agreed by both parties — the city and the FOP — that the reclassification is recommended to proceed,” City Manager Mark Wendling said. “Reclassification will provide the police chief with confidential employees on his leadership team and will not negatively impact the budget.”

The Civil Service Commission and the impacted employees have agreed with the proposal, Wendling said. Now the city must wait for approval from the State Employment Relations Board.

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The salaries of the three lieutenants may change slightly, Wendling said, but would still be within the budget. Gerold and Valandingham currently earn $51.23 an hour, and Mays earns $50.31 an hour.

“It takes a lot of the pressure off the chief and frees him up to run the department,” said Councilman Ron D’Epifanio, chair of council’s public safety subcommittee. “I think the people that we have in these positions, not only are they qualified, the rank and file from what I know all respect them.”

D’Epifanio said the move gives another layer of “positive management” and says the move will “just enhances our department tremendously.”

“I think you’re going to see a lot more accomplished,” he said. “Just look at what’s happened with OVIs.”

Drunk drivers are more likely to get arrested in Fairfield than most other communities in Butler County, according to data analyzed and published earlier this week by the Journal-News.

OVI arrests in Fairfield have been rising since 2015, according to the data. From 2015 to 2017, OVI arrests increased by 72.2 percent.

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