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Freeze expires on Riverdale hiring

By Justin Boron

The Riverdale City Council let a freeze on hiring of city employees expire at Monday night's meeting, smoothing the way for recently hired Police Chief Thetus Knox to pursue her reorganization of the Police Department.

Knox proposed a restructuring of the Police Department in early November, which includes the addition of an assistant police chief and several part-time positions.

But a hold on new hires, voted in two weeks ago, blocked Knox from filling any of the new positions after council member Rick Scoggins raised concerns over how the jobs were being advertised.

At Monday's meeting, the council did not extend the freeze after some discussion in an executive session, which Scoggins said during the regular session would be about the hold on new hires.

However, when the council voted to adjourn to the closed meeting, Scoggins and council member Wanda Wallace, who served as mayor pro tem in Mayor Phaedra Graham's absence, said the meeting was regarding a different personnel matter.

Scoggins had called for the freeze two weeks ago to investigate the Police Department's reorganization.

The manner of solicitation for three part-time positions was central to that probe, he said.

Initially, Knox advertised full-time salary for an administrative assistant, crime analyst, and training officer jobs, giving the appearance to applicants that the pay for part-time work would be on par with typical full-time salaries for those positions.

An Oct. 13 memo obtained by the News Daily through the Georgia Open Records Act revealed Knox's request for the jobs to be displayed with full-time salaries. The salaries were $30,519 for the administrative assistant and $50,000 for the crime analyst and training officer.

Scoggins said the city's liability for possible false advertisement was one of his concerns about the way the jobs were advertised.

On Nov. 30, after the News Daily requested the documents, Knox sent another memo to human resources asking for the positions to be advertised with the part-time salary.

Scoggins also said he favored additions to the Police Department from the bottem end instead of adding a new assistant chief.

Citing accounts from Riverdale officers, he said the number of patrol officers on duty at any one time is insufficient for the city's law enforcement needs.

Some Riverdale officers, who have asked to remain anonymous, say as few as two officers are on patrol at one time.

Knox would not say whether she thought the department needed to hire more patrol officers.

Instead, she relegated her comments to the economy of resources.

"We need to use our resources more efficiently," she said.

Knox also said the expiration of the freeze would allow her to fill some positions from which officers have recently resigned.

Staff writer Ed Brock contributed to this article.