Mount Vernon News

By Mount Vernon News
June 12, 2013 11:14 am EDT


MOUNT VERNON — A News investigation into the personnel file of Police Chief Mike Merrilees shows a rather unremarkable career with few accolades and evaluations that state his superior officers found him to be highly intelligent but lacked motivation.

Performance evaluations are completed each year by supervising officers and include nine specific areas including knowledge of work, competence, efficiency, judgment, cooperation, ability to supervise others, responsibility, dependability and appearance. These facets are scored on a rating from 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest. Evaluators are also asked to provide comments on each section as well as post information regarding the employee’s most significant asset and most significant job limitation.

Merrilees’ first evaluation covered his first 13 months as a patrolman. He received a total score of 38 points out of 90.

In three of the nine categories — competence, efficiency and responsibility — he earned a mark of “2” which designates poor performance, requires constant supervision, seldom works to expectations and tends to procrastinate. Highlights of the first evaluation include his use of common sense, ability to work well with others and appearance.

“Merrilees is intelligent. He has the ability to learn,” stated his evaluator.

His total score improved to a 47 in his second evaluation where most categories saw an improvement except in the area of cooperation where he was told he could have volunteered for more shift details.

Year three showed a marked improvement on his overall points, 55, but his lack of motivation and productivity for the year were negatives in the evaluation as well as a need to increase self-initiated activity.

In his fourth year as a patrolman, Merrilees continued to struggle with motivation factors and procrastination issues. His intelligence was again noted as an asset along with his supervisory potential. His total points for the year was 54.

In 1993, Merrilees, along with five other members of the police department, received the Distinguished Service Award from the Kiwanis Club for his work on the Jerry Allard case.

Through his sixth year with the department, Merrilees’ total points remained in the mid-50s, but it is the evaluation for 1994 that portrays a very shocking look at the future police chief. He earned a score of “3” in efficiency with comments that state, “Very low output in traffic control and other selfinitiated activities. Is not a good self-starter.”

He scored a 7 out of 10 for competency. “Needs little supervision in completing tasks. Sometimes needs pushed to complete reports. Spends too much time on station.”

Merrilees had good rapport with other workers in 1994 but had trouble accepting criticism from his supervisors. His score for responsibility remained at a “4” with the comment, “Showed marked indifference to his job. Gives the impression that he is marking time to something better.”

Supervisor Sgt. Jerry Thurston said, “Ptl. Merrilees doesn’t demonstrate any drive to do his job. He acts like he is waiting for retirement.”

The next year found an improvement in Merrilees’ work including self-generated activities and his efforts to complete reports. However, Thurston remarked Merrilees had a negative attitude toward his supervisors and his job.

An evaluation by Capt. George Curry for the year 1996 resulted in 76 total points and an improvement in knowledge, competence, judgment and responsibility.

“Mike has ability to be a good supervisor if he wants to be one,” Curry wrote.

Merrilees was promoted to a corporal in 1997 and his evaluations remained rather consistent in the low to mid-70s. He was again promoted in 2002 to sergeant.

No evaluations were performed in years 2003, 2004 and 2005.

It was in 2006 when Merrilees was promoted to police chief on his second attempt to pass the exam.

Safety-Service Director Dave Glass provides the evaluation for the police chief which examines the following categories: Honest and ethical conduct, interpersonal relations, knowledge of position and aptitude, quality of service, quantity of work, attendance and punctuality, judgment and problem resolution, initiative, communication, safety practices and effectiveness, care and maintenance of machinery, tools, equipment and facilities, appearance and leadership skills.

Merrilees met city standards in all categories except appearance and attendance where his scores exceeds city standards, during his first year as chief.

Some notable comments regarding his first year as the police chief include, “needs to continue efforts to improve the overall relationship of personnel within the department,” “has knowledge and ability to lead the department in the coming years,” “ethical conduct and his integrity are unquestioned,” and “open communications with department members is important.”

Glass noted Merrilees would have to work hard to “unify what appears to be a fragmented department.”

Not since being named chief has Merrilees received a “needs to improve” mark on his evaluations. Evaluations fluctuate between “meets” and “exceeds” city standards throughout the last six years. Consistently Glass mentions Merrilees needs to “do a better job promoting teamwork in the department.”

There are also several instances when Merrilees is encouraged to wear a uniform on special occasions. “It does not necessarily have to be fancy, as long as it would make you recognizable as a police chief.”

In the most recent evaluation for the time period of March 2012 to March 2013, Glass compliments Merrilees on his attention to detail, commitment to public service, excellent attendance record, problem solving abilities, improved communications with public, staff and administration.

Merrilees is currently being investigated by the Bureau of Criminal Investigations for allegations of misconduct.

Contact Samantha Scoles

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