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