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City moves toward ending Police Civil Service Commission

WORTHINGTON — City Administrator Steve Robinson indicated during a Worthington City Council meeting Monday that the city wants to dissolve the Police Civil Service Commission, a three-person board that handles hirings, promotions and discipline at the Worthington Police Department.

If the commission was removed, police department management would be given the commission’s powers.

The commission was adopted under the city charter, so removing it could take some time. First, the city’s charter commission would have to vote to amend the charter. Council would then need to unanimously vote to remove the civil service commission by ordinance — the change would be effective after 90 days.

Talk about dissolving the commission came during a vote on the nomination of Cecilia Bofah to the Police Civil Service Commission in which council voted not to fill the empty seat. Bofah was recommended by the Nominating Committee to replace Jennifer Weg, who recently resigned.

Kuhle recommended placing Bofah on the commission, and said she was excited to be on the entity whether it was discontinued or not.

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Council members weren’t so sure, however, about appointing someone to a commission that they were going to terminate. Council members Chad Cummings and Alan Oberloh were skeptical of appointing Bofah to a commission they might end, as she was active in voicing her concerns about policing in the city after the June release of a dashcam video showing excessive force by a WPD officer.

“When people were concerned with doings of police in general and specifically the Worthington Police Department, this individual was very forward and very out there against the actions taken,” Cummings said. “I find that to be extremely concerning to put that individual on there now for something we’re talking about getting rid of.”

“She’s certainly willing to stand up and question, and I think that’s what we need on this commission or in the future, a variation on it,” Kuhle said in response, adding he felt the city should institute an advisory council for the police department if the commission is ended.

“No way,” responded Oberloh about an advisory council. “On police issues? No.”

Council members voted not the fill the vacancy, as Robinson said the commission could operate with two members for the time being.

Also during Monday’s meeting, the council voted to close Smith Avenue and the intersecting portion of Clary Street from 5 to 8 p.m. on Halloween.

The Worthington Police Department requested permission to close the street for Halloween, as it’s the most popular street in the community for trick-or-treating. Police reserves will be on duty to help residents on the streets get in and out of their driveways.

In other news, council:

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  • Amended its liquor store plans to include 4-inch thick reinforced integral colored concrete floor slab at a $7,954 decrease in cost.
  • Adopted a resolution to support local legislation and oppose bills introduced during the 2017 legislative session that would restrict the authority of city councils.
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