Candidates for two positions in the Town of Lancaster Police Department were introduced to the Town Board recently.
But an unexpected twist delayed the anticipated hirings when the issue of nepotism was raised. Board members met Tammie E. Malone and Richard K. Albert, candidates from the civil service list for public safety dispatcher and police officer, respectively.
The board was poised to vote on the recommendations, but action was tabled until the Feb. 19 board meeting. Malone, the public safety dispatcher applicant, is currently a dispatcher for the Canisius College Office of Public Safety. She's also the niece of Capt. Leon Trzewieczynski, a point raised by board member Richard D. Zarbo during Monday's meeting.
"I'm not against her because of that," he said. "The thing that worries me is you should be hired on qualification, not association. Nepotism should have no place in the hiring of town employees. The most qualified person -- physically and educationally -- does."
According to Police Chief Thomas Fowler, nepotism never played a role. Malone took the civil service test and scored within the top group, he said, adding that Trzewieczynski interviewed all of the candidates as the department captain but was excluded from the selection process.
Three candidates were interviewed for the police officer's position, but Richard K. Albert, also in the top group and a six-year veteran of the Norfolk-Southern Railroad police, was the choice.
Hired by the Erie County Sheriff's Department on Jan. 29, Albert has completed training already with the Chautauqua County Police Training Academy but decided to accept the Lancaster police job instead, police said.
"He's lived here for two years and felt this job would be better for him," Fowler said. "And he'll save taxpayers about $12,000 because he doesn't have to be trained."
The next step is filing the resolution in time for the Town Board's Feb. 19 meeting.