Me­d­ina agree­ment hints at pos­si­bil­ity of him be­com­ing next Tren­ton Po­lice di­rec­tor

The Trentonian (Trenton, NJ) - - NEWS - By Isaac Avilucea iav­ilucea@21st-cen­tu­ry­ @IsaacAvilucea on Twit­ter

TREN­TON » A loaner agree­ment spell­ing out terms of Pe­dro Me­d­ina’s 90-day ap­point­ment as act­ing po­lice di­rec­tor leaves open the win­dow for him to per­ma­nently land the full-time gig.

Me­d­ina told The Tren­to­nian ear­lier this month he took the job know­ing he wasn’t be­ing con­sid­ered as a can­di­date to re­place Ernest Par­rey Jr. as the city’s next po­lice di­rec­tor.

But the Mem­o­ran­dum of Un­der­stand­ing between the city and Mercer County — ob­tained by The Tren­to­nian through a pub­lic records re­quest — seems to sug­gest oth­er­wise in con­tra­dict­ing Mayor Reed Gus­ciora’s pre­vi­ous state­ments deny­ing Me­d­ina was au­di­tion­ing for a spot in his cab­i­net as his of­fice con­ducted a na­tional search for Par­rey’s per­ma­nent re­place­ment.

“The city shall be per­mit­ted to re­tain Un­der­sh­er­iff Me­d­ina as a full-time em­ployee and seek his ap­point­ment as the Po­lice Di­rec­tor, at any time, ei­ther dur­ing or af­ter the ex­pi­ra­tion of the 90-day time pe­riod,” the agree­ment says.

A spokesman for Mayor Gus­ciora, Con­nor Ilchert, re­sponded to this news­pa­per’s ques­tions about the agree­ment Thurs­day af­ter­noon by say­ing the city didn’t have “a lot of in­put” on the draft­ing of the MOU, which was re­viewed by the city’s le­gal depart­ment.

The le­gal depart­ment didn’t rec­om­mend any changes to the agree­ment, Ilchert said, adding Me­d­ina is “free to throw his name in the hat and ap­ply like every­one else.”

The city is get­ting Me­d­ina for free for only two months when fac­tor­ing in that Par­rey is re­main­ing on the pay­roll for an­other month at po­lice di­rec­tor salary as a con­sul­tant dur­ing the tran­si­tional phase.

Gus­ciora kept Par­rey and ex-Fire Di­rec­tor Qa­reeb Bashir on for an­other month as a “cour­tesy” for their ser­vice to the city de­spite their im­me­di­ate de­par­tures. The sweet­heart deals were not ex­tended to other de­part­ing cab­i­net mem­bers un­der ex-Mayor Eric Jack­son.

Gus­ciora is still look­ing for a re­place­ment for Bashir and has al­ready in­ter­viewed at least four for­mer high-rank­ing Tren­ton fire­fight­ers, in­clud­ing the po­lar­iz­ing for­mer deputy chief Leonard Carmichael.

On the other hand, Me­d­ina, a prom­i­nent voice in the city’s Puerto Ri­can com­mu­nity, is a re­spected fig­ure among Tren­ton’s rank-and-file af­ter spend­ing nearly 30 years on the city po­lice force, some of those years as the depart­ment’s pub­lic in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer.

He even took a leave of ab­sence to run for mayor in 1990, and re­tired from TPD in 2011 fol­low­ing 29 years on the force.

The Me­d­ina agree­ment in­cluded sev­eral hand­writ­ten an­no­ta­tions chang­ing the amount of time Me­d­ina is on loan to the city from two months to three months,

start­ing July 1 and con­tin­u­ing through Sept. 30. That was changed from Aug. 31, ac­cord­ing to the marked-up copy of the agree­ment.

Mayor Gus­ciora and Mercer County Sher­iff Jack Kem­ler signed off on the agree­ment, which also con­tained an odd clause stat­ing “the par­ties an­tic­i­pate that Un­der­sh­er­iff Me­d­ina will be­come em­ployed on a full time ba­sis at the con­clu­sion of the 90-day pe­riod.”

It was un­clear what the so-called an­tic­i­pa­tion clause spells out as far as the city’s and county’s un­der­stand­ing: if it means the city an­tic­i­pates hir­ing Me­d­ina on full-time af­ter the three months ex­pires or whether the county ex­pects the un­der­sh­er­iff to re­join the sher­iff’s depart­ment full-time af­ter his tour of duty at Tren­ton Po­lice is over.

The MOU does make good on Gus­ciora’s as­sur­ance the city isn’t foot­ing the bill of Me­d­ina’s six-fig­ure salary, ben­e­fits and other ac­crued pay while he’s out on loan.

That could change when Me­d­ina’s act­ing term ex­pires.

“If Un­der­sh­er­iff Me­d­ina re­mains as an em­ployee of the City of Tren­ton, in any ca­pac­ity, af­ter Septem­ber 30, 2018, it shall be­come the City of Tren­ton’s sole re­spon­si­bil­ity to pay any salary or ben­e­fits due to Un­der­sh­er­iff Me­d­ina as an em­ployee in the city.”

Me­d­ina pre­vi­ously said that while he knew his stay was tem­po­rary, he was go­ing into the job as if he was “gonna be there forever. I can’t go in think­ing, ‘I’m leav­ing to­mor­row.’ You’re deal­ing with how to change the perception that Tren­ton is a war zone.”

Ilchert said Me­d­ina won’t get any “spe­cial con­sid­er­a­tion” among the pool of ap­pli­cants, all of them re­gional, who have al­ready ap­plied for the po­lice di­rec­tor po­si­tion.

“There is no ploy to get him to be di­rec­tor at the end of the 90 days,” the mayor’s spokesman said. “If he does an ex­em­plary job, he should go through the job ap­pli­ca­tion process.”

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