Monthlong leave remains unexplained by city leaders
More than a month after the city’s new police chief placed the man he replaced on paid administrative leave, the public still has not been given an explanation for the decision.
Scott Stephens, who was praised by city leaders for his management of the department while serving as interim chief, remains on paid administrative leave, city spokeswoman Marlene Feist said Friday. Police Chief Frank Straub placed Stephens on leave Dec. 20.
Earlier in the week Mayor David Condon said he expected the public to be given an explanation for why Stephens was placed on leave within “days or weeks, not months.” But he said he couldn’t comment further.
City Council members said they have been told what led to the action but that they can’t comment further. Through Feist, Straub also declined to comment.
Stephens, 51, became the assistant chief after Straub arrived in the fall and appeared to be taking a prominent role, often appearing at the new chief’s side at public events. But the day after he was put on leave, Straub announced a reorganization of the department in which former Maj. Craig Meidl was named assistant chief and Stephens was demoted to a captain, which is below the rank of assistant chief and the new rank of commander.
Straub has said that in his new role as captain Stephens will work on seeking accreditation for the department and leading efforts to update policies and procedures.
Lt. Dan Torok, vice president of the Lieutenants and Captains Association, said Stephens hasn’t asked the union to represent him.
Though Stephens apparently will become a captain, it’s not clear whether the association could represent him. Feist said that while Stephens has been on paid leave, his title of assistant chief hasn’t been changed.
Stephens, a 27-year veteran of the force, currently is paid $155,800 year. He began leading the department in late 2011, and Condon named him the interim chief on Jan. 3, 2012. Stephens expressed interest in keeping the job on a permanent basis, but Condon eventually said he would hire a leader from the outside.
Straub, Indianapolis’ former director of public safety, was picked by Condon in August and confirmed by the City Council in September.
Civil Service Chief Examiner Glenn Kibbey said Straub has been working with the Civil Service Commission to achieve his reorganization. In it, Straub eliminated the position of major and replaced it with commander.
According to the City Charter, departments only are allowed two positions exempt from civil service rules. In the Police Department that’s the chief and assistant chief. Kibbey said those offices can be filled temporarily in the case of an absence, which is why Meidl can serve as assistant chief even though Stephens technically remains assistant chief.
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