Democrat File Photo
Left, Monticello Mayor/Village Manager Gordon Jenkins and Village of Monticello Police Chief Robert Mir have had a difference of opinion over Mir’s probation period.
Police chief, mayor/ manager scrap over probation period
By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO March 5, 2013 Monticello Police Chief Robert Mir is challenging Mayor/Acting Village Manager Gordon Jenkins’ extension of his probationary employment with the village.
Mir says his understanding is that he wasn’t on probation when hired six months ago, whereas Jenkins disagrees and contends that Mir’s not yet at a satisfactory performance level.
“He’s doing the job, but I want to see him do more, and I know that he’s got it in him to do more,” Jenkins explained to the Democrat yesterday. “I’m happy with him, but I want to see more.”
“That’s no reason to extend somebody’s probation,” Mir replied in an interview with the Democrat. “I didn’t violate any directives, any rules. ... I never was informed I was on probation when I was hired.”
Indeed, the August 15, 2012 village board resolution confirming then-Village Manager John LiGreci’s hiring of Mir doesn’t mention a period of probation.
But in a February 15, 2013 memo to Mir, Jenkins stated that the chief’s probationary employment which, if actually in effect, was to end around that time would be extended to 52 weeks.
“According to Civil Service, I can extend his probation,” Jenkins stated.
The memo was sent to the Sullivan County Personnel Office, though it apparently wasn’t signed.
In a separate February 13 memo, Jenkins criticized Mir for not providing more foot patrols in the Broadway business district, for not adequately reining in overtime costs, and for insufficiently communicating with himself and the village board about the activities of the department.
Mir responded in a February 14 letter to Jenkins that foot patrols are conducted on Broadway and that the community has noticed an increased police presence.
He pointed out his own presence at various community gatherings, plus providing more officers at no cost to MCS and BOCES in the wake of the Newtown, CT shootings.
Mir said overtime costs have dropped while arrests have increased, arguing he should be commended.
He also stated he has attended all department head meetings but that Jenkins has cancelled several of late and seems “disinterested.”
Yesterday, Mir contended that the state-required period of probation was accomplished long ago when he was a police chief in the Village of Liberty and that the new job in Monticello was what Civil Service calls a “lateral transfer.”
Deeming the extension an improper procedure, he’s officially challenged Jenkins’ action via the Sullivan County Personnel Office.
Personnel Officer Carolyn Hill said she’s checking with her state colleagues.
In the meantime, Mir doesn’t plan to leave.
“I enjoy working with the community,” Mir said. “I’m sure I can work with the board.”
Jenkins, too, doesn’t plan to bid goodbye to Mir, saying the two get along fine.
“If I wasn’t happy with the chief, I would have fired him, but I still want him working for the village,” Jenkins explained. “We can agree to disagree but still move forward and get the job done.”
He said he has faith in Mir to meet his expectations.
“On a scale of 1 to 10, I know he can reach the ‘10’.”