Griffith chief, second-in-command demoted
By Michelle L. Quinn Post-Tribune correspondent November 6, 2012 2:52PM
Updated: December 8, 2012 6:34AM
GRIFFITH — The town’s Police Chief and second-in-command were demoted at Monday night’s Town Council meeting.
Chief Ron Kottka and Lt. Mike Gulley, who were appointed chief and patrol lieutenant in June 2006, will both return to their previous ranks of sergeant. Griffith Police Cpl. Matt Moore was sworn in at the meeting as interim chief.
The council made the decision to “move in a different direction” based on a recommendation from the town’s Safety Board, said Town Council vice president Rick Ryfa, R-3rd. Gary Sutton, a member and spokesman for the Safety Board, agreed but declined further comment as to the reason behind the demotions.
Sutton said the Safety Board will advertise for the chief’s position within 10 days and would like to fill the position by early December.
The Griffith chief’s pay is $68,735; a lieutenant’s is $60,582; and a sergeant’s is $56,191. Officers who have 30 years and up also get a longevity payment of $80 per month.
The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 161 in early October presented to the council a letter detailing several concerns officers had. In it, F.O.P. president Al Tharp, a police officer, warned that the department staffing the patrol division with just 29 officers forces it to run under its required minimum at times and officers have been told there’s no money for vehicle maintenance. Additionally, a large majority of the department’s overtime budget was used to cover training pay this year and thus has since been nearly, if not completely, depleted.
Also, radios the officers had been using were found to be designed for the hospitality industry and have spotty results at best on the far north side of town. At an October council study session, Kottka insisted the radios’ wattage is the same as other departments and that based on what he has been told, the problem is likely a combination of worn batteries plus the need to move the town’s north cell tower and install a repeater in the Mansards.
Kottka didn’t return a call for comment.
Gulley, a member of the Police Department for 31 years, was the town’s Ward 4 councilman when he was appointed patrol lieutenant.