City of Ashland

The back entrance to Ashland City's municipal building.

ASHLAND — Seniority within the Ashland Police Department does play a role in determining who its next chief will be, the Civil Service Commission decided Wednesday. 

The unanimous decision came after an hour-long hearing Wednesday, and following another hour of executive session between the three-member commission. 

The hearing stems from two appeals filed by top candidates for the job — Chad Enderby and Jerry Bloodhart — after questions arose surrounding whether seniority should be considered for outside applicants.

Essentially, Enderby, who does not work for Ashland PD, argued seniority should not be a factor in determining top candidates for the job. Lt. Bloodhart, who does work for Ashland Police Department, argued seniority should count.

The job was posted in March ahead of David Marcelli’s retirement from the post after 11 years. He was 55 and had 33 years of experience in law enforcement when he retired April 30.

The civil service commission’s move means one candidate, Enderby, 48, of Ashland will not be considered for the job — even after Mayor Matt Miller interviewed him as one of the three top candidates. 

Enderby currently works as an assistant district commander of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. He has been with that agency for 28 years. 

“I respect the decision that was made and wish the best for whoever is selected,” he said, moments after the commission’s decision. He declined further comment.

Enderby being out of consideration for the job now puts Bloodhart, Lt. John Simmons and Capt. David Lay in the running, all of whom currently work for the Ashland PD.

The process of hiring Marcelli’s replacement involved posting the job for internal and external candidates. The city received 20 applicants, the mayor said. The next step involved assessing the applicants through the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police, a test that evaluates applicants on leadership, time management and other skills. 

Each candidate was given a score out of 600 points, Miller said. The top three scorers were then given to Miller as candidates to interview. Under the city’s charter, it is the mayor’s responsibility to appoint chiefs of police and fire. 

Miller has until June 23 to appoint a new chief of police. After interviewing Enderby, Simmons and Lay, Mark Burgess, the city’s Human Resources Director, added seniority points to each of the applicants’ scores, bumping Enderby from consideration because he does not have seniority within Ashland Police Department. 

During the hearing, Burgess said it was a mistake to give Miller the list of three candidates before applying seniority points and submitting the list to the civil service commission.

Enderby appealed to the civil service commission because he said seniority points should not apply to applicants’ test scores if they are external candidates. 

Seniority points, he said, added 60 points, or 10%, to applicants’ overall score because they were out of 600 points.

“It makes it impossible for an external candidate to even beat the minimum to move on,” he said during the hearing.

Joe Hegedus, an attorney for the Ohio Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association — the union that represents Ashland sergeants and lieutenants — said Enderby’s appeal shouldn’t have even been considered because the appeal was untimely by one day, according to the civil service commission’s rules for appeals. 

He said Enderby received his assessment score on May 24 and that the rules say appeals must be filed within seven days of receiving that score.

Enderby submitted his appeal June 3.

“This commission … (is required) to enforce the rules that you have. Not amend the rules, not talk about theoretical rules, or theoretical things that might have occurred. You have to enforce the rules that you have.”

Civil Service Commission members declined to comment after the unanimous decision.

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