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Brainerd aims to simplify police, fire hirings by dissolving commission

The commission adds another layer and sometimes confusion to certain hiring processes in the city, Human Resources Director Kris Schubert told the personnel and finance committee.

Brainerd City Hall 1.JPG
Brainerd City Hall. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch
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The Brainerd City Council is moving toward dissolving the city’s police and fire civil service commission.

The city established a police and fire civil service commission by ordinance in 1973. Under Minnesota Statute 419.05, cities with a police civil service commission grant the commission “absolute control and supervision over the employment, promotion, discharge, and suspension of all officers and employees of the police department.”

The commission is composed of three residents who are appointed by the council to three-year terms and have meetings as needed.

Essentially, with the creation of the civil service commission, the council delegated part of its hiring and disciplinary authority to the commission.

Human Resources Director Kris Schubert told the council’s personnel and finance committee Monday, Nov. 1, the idea to dissolve the commission came up a couple years ago and is an issue the commissioners themselves have been discussing since.

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“This adds another layer onto our hiring process. It adds a little bit of confusion,” Schubert said, referencing last year’s search for a new police chief that had candidates interviewing in front of the council and the civil service commission separately, with the commission then recommending candidates to the council. After two candidates turned down the job offer, the council promoted an internal candidate to police chief.

“The civil service commission has done a great job over the years, but I think we are seeing that maybe their situation really isn’t helping us, it’s more hindering us,” Schubert added. “So at this point, staff and the civil service commission are actually recommending that we dissolve the civil service commission.”

Schubert said the normal hiring process for a city employee takes about eight weeks, whereas having to go through the civil service commission typically takes about 12 weeks.

Because the commission is written into the city’s code, dissolving it requires an ordinance repealing that part of the code.

The full city council voted unanimously at its meeting later Monday night to direct staff to draft language for an ordinance to repeal the commission, which will come before the council Nov. 15.

“If a commission wants to dissolve itself, I think that’s probably a sign that their job is done,” city council member Tiffany Stenglein said.

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THERESA BOURKE may be reached at theresa.bourke@brainerddispatch.com or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchTheresa .
Related Topics: GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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