MOUNT VERNON — City officials remain quiet this morning about why Mount Vernon Fire Chief Shawn Christy was placed on paid administrative leave Thursday.
Mount Vernon Safety-Service Director David Glass did say that Christy was placed on leave until all the facts were presented.
“We had to make a decision and we decided that until we were sure of everything, he would be placed on administrative leave,” Glass said.
When asked why Christy will continue to be paid during the investigation, Glass said it would be inappropriate for the city to penalize Christy before the investigation process is complete.
“He’s still an effective member of the city work force. We did not have any information we should do it any other way. If you give a person non-paid administrative leave, you are essentially suspending somebody. We did not want to do that,” he said.
After a public records request was made on Christy’s tenure as chief, the News found no disciplinary reports in his file. He did receive a couple of letters stating how good a job the fire department, and Christy, did in fighting the fire at the old Kresge building last year, and one letter from Glass denying a request for $1,000 for a hotel to spend six nights at a fire chief’s conference at Easton in Columbus.
Glass did say the city has been pleased with Christy’s work as chief since he took over in 2006.
“From the city’s perspective, Shawn has been an exemplary chief since he’s been in charge,” Glass said.
Glass, however, wouldn’t comment on whether a state investigation into Christy’s re-certification paperwork had anything to do with the suspension.
A complaint was filed Dec. 29, 2010, with the Ohio Department of Public Safety Emergency Medical Services by an investigator with the State Fire Marshal’s Office. That complaint alleges that Christy, “has been giving false statements on his re-certification paperwork for his paramedic certification.”
Geoff Dutton of the communications office of ODPS said the case must go before the state board whether there is a decision or not. The next meeting of the ODPS board will not be until July. The complaint is not currently on the agenda for the July meeting.
When asked about her thoughts on Christy being placed on administrative leave, Mount Vernon City councilwoman Nancy Vail said, “I’m heartsick,” but would provide no other comment.
Second Ward Councilman Chuck Dice said he had been notified by the Service-Safety Director that the chief had been placed on leave, but he didn’t know anything more than has been published in the News.
First Ward Councilman Jay Maners said he hopes the investigation does not affect morale at the fire department, or within other city departments. However, he “does not know enough details to make a statement.”
Calls to council members John Fair and Bruce Hawkins, council president John Booth and Christy were unreturned at press time.
Council members Rebecca Jordan and Mike Hillier deferred comment to city administration.