SANATOGA PA – All members of the Lower Pottsgrove Police Department – from civilian staff and sworn patrol officers, up through those of rank and charged with command duties – will be required to undergo an annual job performance appraisal and evaluation review, the township Board of Commissioners agreed last week (Jan. 7, 2013).
Commissioners’ unanimously adopted a plan presented by Chief Michael Foltz to ensure that, at least once a year, every department worker receives a comprehensive employment review. The policy states it is intended to “improve all aspects of employee performance,” and will be used to make decisions “regarding training, rewarding, reassignment, promoting, reducing in grade, retaining, or removing employees.”
Foltz and commissioners said nothing in the current labor agreement between the township and its uniformed police officers prohibits such reviews. That contract is now being renegotiated, although board President Jonathan Spadt noted progress on reaching an agreement was slow. Board members have held several executive sessions during recent weeks to discuss both the contract and other police personnel matters.
The 20-page review form for police officers gives the chief or other evaluator the ability to submit “acceptable” or “unacceptable” ratings on topics including general appearance; knowledge of department procedures and policies, as well as state laws; their skills in driving, responding to calls, report writing, investigation, controlling conflict and dealing with the public; and their performance under both stressful and routine conditions.
The form also includes space for the evaluator and employee to write comments about the review, and requires the dated signatures of the participants.
Neither Foltz or commissioners mentioned what, if any, performance reviews existed within the department before adoption of the new policy. It is known that, in recent years, the township and some officers have been embroiled in protracted disputes over performance-related issues now covered by the policy. The board itself is responsible for Foltz’s annual review.
During the board’s discussion, Foltz also mentioned he had instituted periodic testing with officers to ensure they were familiar with and accurate in laws and procedures on which their daily work is based.