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Mayor Malik Presents Safety Forces Charter Amendment To City Council



Akron, Ohio, July 8, 2024  — Today, Mayor Malik’s administration presented legislation to Akron City Council that would allow voters to consider a charter amendment at the ballot this coming November. The amendment would allow the city to have a broader, more diverse candidate pool for Akron's police and fire leadership positions in addition to expanding eligibility for current internal candidates. Click here for the full language of the ordinance, which contains the proposed amendment. If approved by City Council, this amendment would appear on the November 5, 2024 ballot for Akron residents to weigh in.

During the city’s most recent search for the Chief of Police, the city identified a legal prohibition against considering an outside candidate and that, in ordinary circumstances, only individuals in the rank immediately below were eligible to be promoted into the Chief and Deputy Chief positions. A similar issue exists with respect to the Chief and Deputy Chiefs in the Akron Fire Department. In May, Mayor Malik announced the formation of a committee to assist with the drafting of a charter amendment to create clear authority for the city to consider a more broad and diverse candidate pool for key leadership roles in the Akron Police Department and Akron Fire Department, including external candidates.

 

The charter amendment proposed today aims to strengthen the hiring process for these leadership roles in several ways. First, the proposal would allow the city to consider internal and external candidates for the Chief and Deputy Chief roles for both the Akron Police Department and Akron Fire Department. Second, it would allow the city’s Director of Human Resources to set qualifications, potentially allowing more internal candidates than under current rules, which are typically limited to the rank immediately below the opening.

Additionally, Mayor Malik has included both the Police Chief and the Fire Chief in the Mayor’s Cabinet. The City’s charter currently designates the Chiefs of Police and Fire as classified civil servants with a 4-year term of office mandated by the charter, while other mayoral cabinet members serve as at-will appointees. The proposed amendment would ensure that future Chief positions within the Akron Police Department and Akron Fire Department are unclassified employees, serving at-will or for a negotiated contract period. This move will provide for more flexibility in their terms and will increase accountability.

“This charter amendment will ensure that the city has the flexibility and authority to provide the strongest possible hiring process for our public safety forces, with strong internal and external candidates eligible for these key leadership roles,” said Mayor Malik. “I thank all the members of the advisory committee for their input and feedback which helped our administration develop this amendment language for Council’s consideration.”

The advisory committee members included four members of Akron City Council President Margo Sommerville, Council President Pro Tem Brad McKitrick, Councilwoman Linda Omobien, who also serves as President of the Black Elected Officials of Summit County, and At-Large Councilman Eric Garrett. The committee also included State Senator Vernon Sykes, State Representative Veronica Sims, and two longtime Akron residents, Willa Keith, retired from the City of Akron and the Akron Police Department, and Heather Pollock, visiting Assistant Professor of Instruction at the University of Akron.

"After proudly serving nearly 18 years as an Akron Police Officer, including 7 years as a Sergeant, I have experienced first-hand the impact that having a diverse police force can have in our community," said Willa Keith, charter amendment committee member. "Having diversity within our police and fire forces not only matters but it is a necessity if we are to fulfill our promise to truly protect and serve the citizens of Akron."

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