Note: This story was updated at 1:10 p.m.
The Oak Ridge City Council on Monday night will consider a proposal to use the Municipal Technical Advisory Service to review turnover, morale, and administrative policies in the Oak Ridge Police Department.
The Council will also consider a contract to install a stoplight on Oak Ridge Turnpike in front of the Oak Ridge High School.
Also on tonight’s agenda is a resolution to appoint members of a joint city-school committee that will study options for repairing, replacing, or moving the Oak Ridge Preschool.
And Council members will consider a zoning ordinance amendment that could help the Main Street Oak Ridge project, which will redevelop the former Oak Ridge Mall.
Oak Ridge City Council member Kelly Callison proposed the third-party review of the ORPD last month, and it was unanimously approved by Council members on February 9. During that meeting, Council rejected requests for two other probes by member Trina Baughn.
In a letter to Council this month, Callison said he met with Rex Barton, an MTAS police management consultant, and “came away from the meeting very impressed with his credentials.” Barton has more than 18 years of experience as a policeman and 20 as an MTAS consultant, Callison said.
“Having completed over 50 similar reviews across the state of Tennessee, I believe he brings the experience and knowledge to deliver a report that can be accepted by those on all sides of the issue that have been expressed to the Council,” Callison said.
The review wouldn’t cost the city any money because Oak Ridge pays a fee to support the work of MTAS.
Callison said interviews for the review would be conducted off-site and would not use attribution.
“I believe that approach is key to obtaining honest input from those participating in the interviews,” Callison said.
Barton thinks he can deliver a complete report within 30 days.
“I think (that’s) critical to show the citizens that we have moved forward quickly on the concerns expressed,” Callison said.
A few people have already raised questions about using MTAS. During a work session this month, for example, Baughn said MTAS could have a conflict of interest.
But City Council member Chuck Hope said he’s been pleased with the work done by MTAS, and Oak Ridge Mayor Warren Gooch said the suggestion that MTAS is “biased does a disservice across the board.”
Barton was an administrative captain for the Athens, Tennessee, Police Department from 1977 to 1995 and he’s worked for MTAS since 1995. He has an associate’s degree in criminal justice, a bachelor’s degree in organizational management, and a master’s in business administration.
The joint city-school committee to be considered tonight is expected to study preschool options and various aspects of long-range plans, including financing, timetables, and public education and enrollment considerations. The resolution to be considered by the City Council would name these city staff members to the committee: Oak Ridge Finance Director Janice McGinnis, Recreation and Parks Director Jon Hetrick, and Public Works Operations and Maintenance Division Manager Pat Fallon.
The City Council meeting starts at 7 p.m. Monday, March 9, in the Oak Ridge Municipal Building Courtroom. See the agenda here. See the agenda additions related to the ORPD review and Preschool committee here.
More information will be added as it becomes available.