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City to consider taking the chiefs out of civil service

Bremerton’s city council was set to begin discussions this week to remove the police and fire chiefs from the civil service system.

Following a vote of the people in 2004, the city’s charter was changed to allow the council to move the chiefs from civil service employees to administrative managers. Under such a system, the chiefs would be considered at-will employees and could be fired by the mayor.

Police Chief Craig Rogers has announced that he will retire in February and would be unaffected by any council action to turn his job into an “at-will” employee. Fire Chief Al Duke, meanwhile, would remain a civil service employee until he too leaves the city.

The idea to remove the chiefs from the civil service system has been previously discussed, but was brought up most recently by City Attorney Roger Lubovich and Human Resources Director Charlotte Delmore when Rogers announced his pending retirement.

“There is nothing motivating this other than the chief retiring,” said City Attorney Roger Lubovich. “It will be easier to recruit a new chief this way, rather than going with civil service rules, especially for a national search.”

Lubovich said that removing the chiefs from civil service status will allow the city to hire a professional recruiter and give the city more options in replacing Rogers. Lubovich also said that the move would also bring the city more in line with other cities around the state. He said he looked at 13 similarly sized cities and found only one, Walla Walla, in which chiefs are still civil service employees.

The change would give the mayor a lot more power, but Lubovich said that wasn’t a driving factor.

“It’s not about personalities or any of the people involved,” he said. “It wasn’t even the mayor’s idea.”

 

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