Saturday, January 20, 2018
News Roundup

After report, St. Petersburg police promotions to resume

ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman has given his blessing for promotions at the Police Department to proceed after getting a final report late Friday afternoon about the most recent testing process.

The report, by auditing firm Mayer, Hoffman, McCann, P.C., was commissioned after allegations about the latest test that were aired at a community meeting in March at a local church.

That meeting, attended by several police officers who spoke out about unfairness at the department and diversity concerns, prompted Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin to halt the promotions until a review could be conducted.

"While the report produced no definitive evidence of misconduct, several anomalies were discovered during the review and are explained in greater detail in the accompanying report," Kriseman wrote in a memo to interim police Chief Dave DeKay.

Those anomalies, according to the report, included whispering heard during the oral portion of the test and significant differences between the oral and written performance of some test-takers, allowing a few to move up in position.

Still, nothing rose to the level that suggested the testing wasn't sound, according to the report. Reviewers, who looked at all test materials and regraded everything, determined each candidate was ranked correctly.

DeKay, reached Friday evening, said he had not had a chance to thoroughly review the report.

But he said he does plan to proceed now with his original plan to promote one lieutenant and four sergeants. A new police chief will likely have many more slots to fill because of other vacancies and recent retirements.

"The process was solid and the list was valid," DeKay said. "We'll try and do it as soon as possible. We have to review files, look at resumes."

Besides re-examining test scores, the reviewers also checked to see whether people were given the correct notice about the vacancies, testing and study sessions. All conditions were met in accordance with city rules, the review found.

In the report, the firm noted that they did not perform a full audit, which would have included them expressing an opinion about the findings.

"Had we performed additional procedures, other matters might have come to our attention that would have been reported to you," the report said.

Ben Kirby, Kriseman's communications director, said the administration met with the firm and did not feel a full audit was needed.

"We wanted exactly what we have here," he said.

He said the mayor does believe, however, that the promotions process could be refined.

Kriseman said as much in his memo, telling DeKay he wanted to work together to "further improve our process to ensure that future promotions are immune to charges of impropriety."

Kriseman also said he was "disappointed" by the way the allegations surfaced, noting that members of the department's command staff, including Assistant Chief Luke Williams, attended the community meeting. The mayor said he expects people to follow the chain of command if they have a concern.

Williams could not be reached for comment Friday.

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