Date: Fri 30-Apr-1999

Date: Fri 30-Apr-1999

Publication: Bee

Author: ANDYG

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Police Commission Awaits Documents From Lysaght


Police Commission members this week were waiting for Police Chief James E.

Lysaght, Jr, to provide them with copies of documents he referenced in his

rebuttal to the commission's recent negative job evaluation of him.

"We are still waiting for the chief to get the exhibits," Police Commission

Chairman James Reilly said Wednesday. There are 90 exhibits referenced by the

chief in his response.

Mr Reilly said he expects the commission will discuss the chief's response at

a special commission meeting some time in May. That discussion would be held

in closed session, unless Chief Lysaght wants it conducted in open session, Mr

Reilly said.

In a lengthy, detailed response April 15, Chief Lysaght rebutted the Police

Commission's allegations of poor job performance, providing a different

perspective on the events described by the commission.

In its April 6 job evaluation, the commission finds the chief has not

corrected deficiencies in his performance which were listed in his preceding

job evaluation last September, and has not displayed the skills needed to

effectively lead and manage the police department.

In the chief's September evaluation, Police Commission members stated that

unless his performance improves to a satisfactory level, and unless he meets

the goals he agreed to with the Police Commission, the commission believes it

will have "just cause" to fire him. In their April 6 job evaluation Police

Commission members rated the chief's job performance as "unsatisfactory."

After commission members receive the documents referenced by the chief, the

matter should move rapidly, Mr Reilly said. "As soon as we get these

documents, we want to move it along as quickly as possible," he said.

"It's a situation that's hanging over the police department, creating a lot of

speculation," he said. Uncertainty about the chief's future creates a

situation which distracts attention from routine police operations, he said.

"[Lysaght's] response is a big portion of what we're going to consider" in

handling the job evaluation, Mr Reilly said.

Mr Reilly said the commission's options continue to range from "doing nothing"

to "dismissing" the chief.

State law describes procedures a police commission must follow when it seeks

to fire a police chief. No police chief can be fired unless there is a showing

of "just cause" by the police commission and the chief has been given notice

in writing of the specific grounds for such a firing and an opportunity to be

heard in his own defense, personally or by his lawyer, at a public hearing

before the commission.

Chief Lysaght has hired attorney John Kelly of Orange to represent him in

connection with his job evaluation.

Mr Kelly characterized the chief's reply to the Police Commission's job

evaluation, as "very thorough and complete."

Mr Kelly said Chief Lysaght has been collecting the documents which he

referenced to provide to the Police Commission with copies of them. Mr Kelly,

who is serving as the police chief's legal adviser, said he would represent Mr

Lysaght if the commission brings the matter to a termination hearing.