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2 MORE JOBS GO TO KIN OF POLICE DEPT. MEMBERS

The Town of Tonawanda is set to fill two positions in the town's Police Department with applicants related to current department employees.

The Town Board is scheduled to vote Monday to hire a public safety dispatcher who is the daughter of a current dispatcher and a paramedic who is a son-in-law of the supervisor of the department's traffic bureau.

The hirings would come three weeks after the Town Board voted to hire a department mechanic who is a brother-in-law of the traffic bureau supervisor.

Police Chief Samuel M. Palmiere said he recommended the town hire the three because they were the best-qualified for the positions, not because of favoritism or nepotism.

"My policy on that is that I would never, ever give anyone a job because of their relationship (to a department or town employee), but I would never let that hold someone back from a position," he said.

On Feb. 5, the Town Board hired Mark DeMarco as a police department mechanic at a salary of $36,644. DeMarco is the brother-in-law of Lt. David A. Peck.

The board will vote Monday on whether to hire James Adams, Peck's son-in-law, as a paramedic trainee at a salary of $34,263, Palmiere said.

The board also will vote on hiring Kelly McElhinny as a public safety dispatcher at a salary of $34,263. McElhinny's father, Lee, is a department dispatcher.

Adams and McElhinny met the civil service requirements for their respective positions, officials said. The town is allowed to hire any of the top three finishers on the civil service exam for each position.

The mechanic's job is not covered by civil service.

Palmiere said McElhinny has been a part-time dispatcher with the department for a year. Adams is a certified paramedic, and DeMarco has worked with the diesel engines that power the department's ambulances, the police chief said.

A panel of three department officials, including Peck, interviewed nine or 10 applicants for the mechanic's position. The three said DeMarco was by far the best candidate for the job, Peck and Palmiere said.

Peck said he was involved in DeMarco's hiring because the mechanic reports to his bureau.

"Bottom line, I have no qualms about the qualifications of the person hired for this position," Peck said.

Both Peck and Palmiere said several of the unsuccessful applicants for the mechanic's position also were related to a police or town official -- including a son of the former assistant police chief and a nephew of a Town Board member.

"(Hiring is) strictly on the merits of the individual, and not on any personal or family relationship that they might have," Palmiere said.

Tonawanda Supervisor Ronald H. Moline said he had not been aware that the applicants were related to Police Department employees until a reporter brought it to his attention.

Moline said he wasn't troubled by the family ties.

Moline's son, Brian D., was hired as a town police officer while the elder Moline was serving as supervisor.

Lt. Michael J. Vishion, head of the town's police union, said he believes the department's hiring practices are fair.

"We live in a very small town, and with the residency requirement (for Police Department employees), we're all related to each other," Vishion said.

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