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Safety Board Meeting Minutes 2021

Meeting Minutes

01-18-2021 Safety Board

January 18, 2021 Safety Board Meeting Minutes

CALL TO ORDER:

Mr. Janowiak called the St. John Town Safety Board Regular Meeting to order on Monday, January 18, 2021, at 6:00 p.m., and led all in the Pledge of Allegiance.

ROLL CALL:

Safety Board Members present in alphabetical order: Steve DeJong, Richard Janowiak, Robert Kmetz, Patrick Moran, and Raymond Paradiso. Also present: Steven Flores, Police Chief; Kevin LaDuke, Fire Chief; and Attorney Adam Decker representing the St. John Safety Board. A quorum was attained. Town Council Liaison Michael Schilling appeared at 6:03 p.m.

ELECTION OF OFFICERS:

Mr. Janowiak called for nominations to serve the Safety Board in 2021.

First, a nomination for President was called. Mr. Kmetz nominated Richard Janowiak to serve as President. A second was made by Mr. DeJong. No other nominations were presented. A call for vote was requested by Mr. Janowiak. All were in favor by voice vote.

Second, a nomination for Vice President was called. Mr. Moran nominated Robert Kmetz to serve as Vice President. A second was made by Mr. Paradiso. No other nominations were presented. A call for vote was requested by Mr. Janowiak. All were in favor by voice vote.

Third, a nomination for Secretary was called. Mr. Kmetz nominated Patrick Moran to serve as Secretary. A second was made by Mr. DeJong. No other nominations were presented. A call for vote was requested by Mr. Janowiak. All were in favor by voice vote.

CONFIRM TOWN COUNCIL APPOINTMENT OF FIRE CHIEF:

Mr. Janowiak entertained a motion to confirm the appointment of Battalion Chief Kevin LaDuke to serve as the Fire Chief, effective January 4, 2021. Mr. Paradiso made a motion to confirm the appointment; Mr. Moran seconded the motion. All were in favor by voice vote.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES:

Mr. Janowiak entertained a motion to approve the minutes for the November 16, 2020 Meeting. Mr. Kmetz made a motion to approve the minutes; Mr. Paradiso seconded the motion. All were in favor by voice vote.

MONTHLY REPORTS:

A. Chief LaDuke
During the month of November 2020, the St. John Fire Department responded to a total of 133 requests for patient contact. Of those contacts, 70 patients, or 82%, were ALS1; there were no ALS2 calls; and 15 patients, or 18%, were BLS.

Calls in general consisted of 138 in Town limits, 24 calls in the contracted part of the Township, and 10 Mutual Aid calls. The Mutual Aid calls consisted of 1 fire request, 3 standbys, and 4 EMS requests.

During the month of December 2020, the St. John Fire Department responded to a total of 143 requests for patient contact. Of those contacts, 86 patients, or 90%, were ALS1; there was 1 ALS2 call at 1%; and 9 contacts, or 9%, for BLS.

Calls in general consisted of 147 in Town limits; 17 in the contracted portion of the Township, and 14 Mutual Aid. The Mutual Aid calls consisted of 2 fire requests, 2 standbys, and 2 EMS requests.

A. Chief Flores
From November 1, 2020, through November 30, 2020, the members of the St. John Police Department logged 20,688 miles and responded to 529 law incidents. The investigation of these incidents led to 19 arrests with 25 charges being filed. There were 164 traffic citations issued, along with 160 written warnings, for a total of 324 citations being issued during the month. Vehicle thefts totaled $0, other thefts totaled $2,892, and recovered property totaled $800.

From December 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020, the members of the St. John Police Department logged 17,552 miles and responded to 470 law incidents. The investigation of these incidents led to 6 arrests with 10 charges being filed. There were 81 traffic citations issued, along with 88 written warnings, for a total of 169 citations being issued during the month. Vehicle thefts totaled $0, other thefts totaled $1,175, and recovered property totaled $0.

NEW BUSINESS:

A. Chief LaDuke
Chief LaDuke began by thanking the Safety Board for their support, and thanked Chief Willman for his 25 years as the Chief and 40 years serving the Town of St. John.
1. Battalion Chief Assignment
Chief LaDuke stated that he was assigning Pat Savell to the positon of Battalion Chief, effective January 16, 2021. Mr. Janowiak entertained a motion to accept the appointment of Mr. Savell to Battalion Chief with date as stated. Mr. Paradiso made a motion to confirm the appointment; Mr. DeJong seconded the motion. All were in favor by voice vote.

Chief LaDuke presented Battalion Chief Savell with a badge and helmet as participants congratulated him.

2. Volunteer Member
Part-Time Firefighter/Paramedic Ronald Swets has joined the St. John Volunteer Organization. He will serve both positions. Mr. Swets was a Reserve Officer for a number of years as well. It was determined that approval was not needed by the Safety Board.
3. Volunteer Resignation
Matthew Najar resigned from his Volunteer status with the Department after serving 1-1/2 years due to relocating outside the area. The Safety Board determined that approval was not required.
4. Part-Time Staff
Chief LaDuke reported that Allison Semethy completed the Department’s full-time process. She is a Firefighter/Paramedic with the Town of Schererville and works part-time with the City of Crown Point, the Town of Cedar Lake, and now the Town of St. John.

Another part-time employee is Thomas Clark who applied full-time with the Department. He withdrew his application for personal reasons, but Mr. Clark wishes to work part-time with the Town of St. John.

It was determined that approval was not needed by the Safety Board.

5. Hiring List Update
Chief LaDuke stated that there would be a badge ceremony with the following new hires at the next meeting. Matthew Easto and Michael Haney were hired on January 2, 2021 from the Eligibility List. Niko Vuckovic accepted an offer on December 10, 2020, and the Department is waiting for the approval from the Indiana Public Employees’ Retirement System (INPRS/PERF). This is just a formality for his Pension coverage. It is anticipated that Mr. Vuckovic will begin working on February 1, 2021. Lastly, Jose Navarro did not have his CPAT card at the time, therefore, the next person on the list selected was Mike Ciesielski. Mr. Ciesielski’s first day of employment with St. John was today; January 16, 2021.

Mr. DeJong confirmed with Chief LaDuke that the four employees listed fill all the vacancies. Chief LaDuke conferred and added that there will be 4 full-time personnel each shift. There are 7 during the day and 6 at night, so they now have a full staff.

6. Purchase Requests
Chief LaDuke concluded his report by stating that he would present the following purchase requests to the Town Council. There will be a request for 4 beds as the current beds are 8-years-old. Also, there will be a request for recliners, which are 8-years-old as well. Finally, a new squad will be requested to replace the one that Chief Willman used. All the expenses will come from the Cumulative Fire Fund.

Mr. Janowiak added that he spoke with Mr. Moran recently, and the Safety Board would like to see a solid set of Rules and Regulations established and implemented. He requested a time frame of 6 months to complete. Chief LaDuke believed that was more than enough time, and possibly, they will have the information sooner.

B. Chief Flores
Chief Flores began by congratulating Chief LaDuke on his appointment to Fire Chief, and he extended congratulations to Battalion Chief Savell.
1. License Plate Reader (LPR)
Chief Flores reported that the Department intends to access a database for the LPR cameras that are currently installed throughout Lake County. This will provide the rights from Motorola/Vigilant Solutions to have this data available on the Police Officer laptops in the squads up to 25 users. The LPR is a tremendous investigative tool. Munster, Dyer, and the Sheriff’s Department have cameras, and they are preparing to install more. Dyer has some close to St. John. The region should be surrounded with cameras when the project is complete. Hopefully, St. John will be able to have a camera within our municipal boundaries next year. Information was provided to the Town Council and approved at their last meeting. The agreement was forwarded to Attorney Decker for review and revision. It is now with Vigilant Solutions for review. Chief Flores anticipates use of the database in February, after final review of the agreement.

PUBLIC COMMENT:

None

ADJOURNMENT:

Mr. Janowiak called for a motion to adjourn the meeting. Mr. Kmetz made the motion to adjourn with second made by Mr. Paradiso. All were in favor by voice vote. Meeting adjourned at 6:15 p.m.

Respectfully submitted:

Amy J. Gross, Recording Secretary
St. John Safety Board

02-22-2021 Safety Board

February 22, 2021 Safety Board Meeting Minutes

CALL TO ORDER:

Mr. Janowiak called the St. John Town Safety Board Regular Meeting to order on Monday, February 22, 2021, at 6:00 p.m., and led all in the Pledge of Allegiance.

ROLL CALL:

Safety Board Members present: Steve DeJong, Board Member; Robert Kmetz, Vice President; Patrick Moran, Secretary; Raymond Paradiso, Board Member; and Richard Janowiak, President. Also present: Steven Flores, Police Chief; Kevin LaDuke, Fire Chief; and Attorney Adam Decker representing the St. John Safety Board remotely. A quorum was attained. Town Council Liaison Michael Schilling appeared at 6:07 p.m.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES:

Mr. Janowiak entertained a motion to approve the minutes for the January 18, 2021 Regular Meeting. Mr. Paradiso made a motion to approve the minutes; Mr. Kmetz seconded the motion. All were in favor by voice vote. There were no December minutes due to the cancellation of the Regular Meeting.

MONTHLY REPORTS:

A. Chief LaDuke
During the month of January 2021, the St. John Fire Department responded to a total of 143 requests for patient contact. Of those contacts, 71 patients were ALS1; 3 patients were ALS2; and 25 patients were BLS. Of the transports, 81% were residents and 19% were non-residents.

Chief LaDuke added that the billing description was included with the January report. This consists of the amount billed. The WPS code stands for Medicare and MD stands for Medicaid. The total dollar amount generated was $103,316.60.

Mr. Kmetz asked for the year-to-date receivables. Chief LaDuke stated that it would be $45,555. He added that the amount is not accurate considering the new rates. Money is received through two different attorneys for collections. They are running a month to a month and a half behind for bills going out. He emphasized that the amount was not an accurate depiction of December. Mr. Kmetz reiterated that the amount provided, $45,555, was not the receivables balance; it was the amount collected during the month. Chief LaDuke concurred.

Mr. Kmetz inquired about the outstanding receivables balance. Chief LaDuke said he did not have that amount available, and he could provide it in the monthly report as well. Mr. Kmetz stated, “The accountant in me wants to—wandering what our receivable balance is and how much we’re writing off.” Chief LaDuke explained that they write-off amounts monthly, and then provide a six-month write-off to the Town. Mr. DeJong explained that due to COVID, Medicaid and Medicare only pay a certain amount regardless of what is billed by law. Last year, it became federal law that agencies could not “balance bill” patients for calls, so there have been some ups and downs due to the state of affairs. Mr. Kmetz understood, but he just wanted to see the running receivables balance. Chief LaDuke explained that the write-offs are done every month, and the Town Council approves every six months. This was just done in January, and he recalled it being at approximately $100,000. Active collections are being sought, and there is a new billing system. Two attorney offices are involved, adding to the complexity as discussed. Mr. Kmetz would like to see the whole aging receivables. Chief LaDuke said this would be no problem.

A. Chief Flores
From January 1, 2021, through January 31, 2021, the members of the St. John Police Department logged 21,829 miles and responded to 563 law incidents. The investigation of these incidents led to 15 arrests with 20 charges being filed. There were 147 traffic citations issued, along with 184 written warnings, for a total of 331 citations being issued during the month. Vehicle thefts totaled $0, other thefts totaled $4,733, and recovered property totaled $0.

NEW BUSINESS:

A. Chief LaDuke
Chief LaDuke presented the fire calls to the Board that would be part of the Monthly Reports. There were 185 calls with the following breakdown described: 1 in Crown Point area of Town, 8 in Dyer contracted area, 152 calls in St. John corporate limits, 2 in Cedar Lake area of Town, 14 in Lake Hills, and 8 for other area departments.
1. Hiring List – New Hires
Chief LaDuke stated the names of the Full-Time Firefighter/Paramedics as Matthew Easto, Michael Haney, Nikola Vuckovic, and Michael Ciesielski.

Mr. Janowiak entertained a motion to accept the Full-Time staff as listed. Mr. Paradiso made the motion to approve and Mr. Kmetz seconded the motion. All were in favor by voice vote.

2. Replacement of Joel Hasselgren
Chief LaDuke reported that the Department lost an employee to the City of Crown Point, Joel Hasselgren. He asked for the Board to review the current hiring list. Unfortunately, the next two people on this list do not have active CPAT cards. The next eligible person is Allison Semethy. He would like to provide her with a conditional offer of employment.

Mr. Janowiak entertained a motion to hire Allison Semethy, with a conditional offer of employment, replacing former employee Hasselgren. Mr. DeJong made the motion and Mr. Kmetz seconded the motion. All were in favor by voice vote.

3. Approval of 2021 Full-Time List
Chief LaDuke stated that the list occurs when they prepare the service contracting with Dyer and unincorporated areas. The Full-Time list has changed since the last Town Council meeting due to the removal of Mr. Hasselgren and current inclusion of Ms. Semethy. He requested an approval of the list. Mr. Moran asked if the list was public record due to the personal addresses being a part of it. Chief LaDuke questioned this with the contracted aspect of the requirement. In years past, the organization wanted the personal addresses on the list. He preferred that the addresses not be included. He does have a list that omits the personal addresses if the document is made public record.

Mr. Moran asked legal counsel if the list could be devoid of personal addresses for public record. Attorney Decker said that it could be done, and if a request were made for public records, it could be reviewed at that time. For purposes of the list, it certainly may be redacted. Mr. Moran concluded that no personal addresses be on the list. Chief LaDuke stated that he would be willing to table the approval of the list for purposes of removing the addresses. Attorney Decker re-emphasized that the omission is sufficient, however, the issue resurfaces when a request for public records is received. The list has been submitted to the Town Council and the Safety Board thus far, but not distributed to the public or viewed by the public.

Mr. Janowiak entertained a motion to approve the 2021 Full-Time List. Mr. Moran made the motion to approve and Mr. Kmetz seconded the motion. All were in favor by voice vote.

4. Approval of 2021 Part-Time List & 2021 Volunteer List
Chief LaDuke introduced the Part-Time List for approval. Mr. DeJong stated that he understands the Department having some part-time and some volunteer. His concern is what standard they would fall under whether it be time for training attendance and so on. Is it the same for the volunteer? Chief LaDuke explained that the standard for the volunteer is more stringent than the standard currently for the part-time staff. Mr. DeJong believed that, for managerial purposes, this could produce a “grey area” of what standard they are to be held. He would like to see an employee under one purview. They could be part-time or volunteer, and some of this would be based on their residential location. If they are not going to have a set standard for all, then they should fall under one or two categories. Mr. Janowiak agreed. This would be for management purposes and accountability.

Chief LaDuke explained that some of the managerial challenges consist of the part-time staff working shifts on the ambulance or the ALS Quint. The volunteer staff is paid-on-call status. There are talks, and he hopes to continue this with the Safety Board and Town Council, concerning the move to all part-time. This would make management easier, and it would help the Clerk-Treasurer’s Office with payroll. Mr. DeJong asked if he wanted the Board to approve the lists now, or change it later based on the circumstances. Mr. Janowiak said that they would just be going over it again rather than correcting it and getting it done right the first time. Mr. Kmetz stated to do it all at once.

Mr. Paradiso wanted clarification of the volunteer standard versus part-time. Chief LaDuke explained that currently, the part-timers have no mandated—besides system training for EMT and Paramedic—they have no mandated fire training. When they are on shift, the staff participate in that fire training, but traditionally, you will see other departments and agencies have a certain number of hours for participation. Mr. Paradiso added that they should be able to bring in the training for those other departments, and that should work for training that they have received. Chief LaDuke answered that St. John Fire Department does share a training platform with other agencies in the MABAS (Mutual Aid Box Alarm System) division. This information is shared as the vast majority of the staff listed on the part-time roster are full-time elsewhere. Chief LaDuke answered that it would be the pleasure of the Board, but he would agree that in the past, the matter addressed has been the unwritten response. He would accept any idea from the Board.

Mr. Paradiso stated that the training elsewhere should account for training with St. John, and Mr. Janowiak agreed. It would be difficult to get all the in-house training from part-time staff working three days per month. The training during full-time employment at another agency should carry over to St. John as well. Chief LaDuke said that some of that is already being done to avoid redundancy such as MABAS. There are also on-shift trainings for every shift, excluding Sundays. Mr. DeJong asked if there would be a problem getting volunteers to switch to part-time. Is this something that needs to be deferred for next meeting? The Chief could work this out internally and the list could be approved based on his requirements. Chief LaDuke preferred this opportunity to speak with Council, and stated there is support on the Department to move to part-time status. He added that this would also help with payroll going from a pay-per-call where they receive a flat stipend to an hourly stipend. For example, a part-timer receives the part-time wage while on duty in that capacity. When working a fire as a volunteer, and present for 8 hours, the volunteer only makes $16 for the entire fire. However, the employee would get an hourly rate if working as part-time. There is much benefit going this route, but Chief LaDuke would need to speak with the Town Council.

Mr. Kmetz asked what the estimated cost would be if the volunteers converted to part-time status. Chief LaDuke stated it would actually decrease since they are changing some operations. He said they are moving towards a tiered response. Currently, a pager will sound, and a volunteer, a part-timer, and a full-timer will all get the page. There is no difference on where they are on the status. If working full-time or part-time, that person is expected to go when on shift. Generally, part-timers and volunteers have the choice if they are going to respond or not. The tiered system will cause the on-duty crew to handle certain calls, but if a structure fire arises, the next tier will allow volunteers to respond. The amount of times a volunteer is needed will be limited, but their stipend will be better to respond when needed. He will need to work more with the dispatch system for calls and the cost associated with the concept. Mr. Kmetz asked if the volunteers moved to part-time would they have to be scheduled. Chief LaDuke believed not. If they moved to part-time, they would still be able to come to a call, and receive an equitable part-time salary. Mr. DeJong added that a callback, based on the level of calls and number of calls, at a collective time, could permit a callback until such calls are cleared. Chief LaDuke concluded that this idea is becoming the industry standard. Unfortunately, volunteerism is changing and has been since he came on board.

Mr. Janowiak entertained a motion to delay the approval of the 2021 Part-Time and Volunteer Lists. Mr. DeJong made the motion to defer the approval of Part-Time and Volunteer until Chief LaDuke develops a plan and determines the list. Mr. Kmetz seconded the motion. All were in favor by voice vote.

5. Approval – Intent to Hire Part-Time Staff
Chief LaDuke reported that he had three new hires to add to the part-time list. He began by introducing the name of Thomas Clark who is a Paramedic. He is seeking approval to hire Mr. Clark part-time. Mr. Janowiak asked if a motion was necessary. Mr. DeJong stated that he will go on record again stating that the part-timers are at-will employees. He believes the Board can make a motion to defer the authority of part-time and/or as of now, volunteer staff to the hiring and/or dismissal to the Fire Chief as they are not sworn employees. Attorney Decker agreed and added that the Board has authority to oversee hiring of full-time and part-time personnel. If, as a policy, the Board were to give that authority to the Fire Chief to hire the part-time, it can certainly be done. They are not required to vote on every part-time employee if that is the decision and policy of the Board. Mr. Janowiak asked if that would be the part-time and the volunteers. Mr. Paradiso added that as long as they meet the requirements of the state to operate as a firefighter, he sees no need to vote for a part-timer or volunteer.

Mr. DeJong made a motion to defer the authority of all part-time and/or, and this time, volunteer hiring to the Fire Chief. Mr. Paradiso seconded the motion. All were in favor by voice vote.

B. Chief Flores
1. License Plate Reader (LPR) Update
Chief Flores reported that the LPR software is running and live. There are a few parts to be tweaked, but the investigative portion to run and check plates is up and running. There are many options available with the software. It should be working in its full capacity in 1 to 2 weeks.
2. County-Wide Auto Theft Task Force
Chief Flores reported that St. John Police Department was approached by the Sheriff’s Department recently due to the increase in auto thefts and carjacking. This is now coming into Indiana, all the way out to DeMotte. The Sheriff wanted to implement a task force with Lake County agencies, especially those bordering the Illinois/Indiana state line. Schererville, Dyer, Munster, Hammond, and St. John are included. If there is a big case, a group of officers and detectives will be called out. Search warrants, interviews, evidence preservation, scene securing, and active patrols are among the duties of the task force. There would be 1 or 2 officers designated from St. John on an as-needed basis.
3. Snow Parking Ordinance
Chief Flores reported that complaints have been coming in for parking in the street and shoveling snow into the street. He wanted to remind residents that if it snows, vehicles need to be removed from the streets. Officers will be giving warning tickets, and if the vehicle remains for a time, it will be towed. Cooperation is requested as there is not much that can be done when the Town plows the roadways, leaving snow at the driveway entrances. Some warnings have also been issued for placing snow back into the streets.

PUBLIC COMMENT:

None

ADJOURNMENT:

Mr. Janowiak called for a motion to adjourn the meeting. Mr. Kmetz made the motion to adjourn with second made by Mr. Paradiso. All were in favor by voice vote. Meeting adjourned at 6:27 p.m.

Respectfully submitted:

Amy J. Gross, Recording Secretary
St. John Safety Board

03-15-2021 Safety Board

March 15, 2021 Safety Board Meeting Minutes

CALL TO ORDER:

Mr. Janowiak called the St. John Town Safety Board Regular Meeting to order on Monday, March 15, 2021, at 6:00 p.m., and led all in the Pledge of Allegiance.

ROLL CALL:

Safety Board Members present: Steve DeJong, Board Member; Robert Kmetz, Vice President; Patrick Moran, Secretary; Raymond Paradiso, Board Member; and Richard Janowiak, President. Also present: Steven Flores, Police Chief; Kevin LaDuke, Fire Chief; and Attorney Adam Decker representing the St. John Safety Board remotely. Absent: Michael Schilling, Town Council Liaison. A quorum was attained.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES:

Mr. Janowiak entertained a motion to approve the minutes for the February 22, 2021 Regular Meeting. Mr. Kmetz made a motion to approve the minutes; Mr. DeJong seconded the motion. All were in favor by voice vote.

MONTHLY REPORTS:

A. Chief LaDuke
During the month of February 2021, the St. John Fire Department responded to a total of 110 requests for patient contact. Of those contacts, 69 patients were ALS1; 4 patients were ALS2; and 14 patients were BLS. Of the transports, 64% were residents and 36% were non-residents.

Chief LaDuke continued by directing the Board to the February 2021 EMS Activity Report. Patient transport consisted of 46 people to Franciscan Health in Dyer. This is the predominant hospital destination due to its proximity. He included the billing amounts, which were $95,652 for amount generated, and $53,557 for total monies received.

Regarding fire calls, there were 149 incidents with 2 in Crown Point and 4 in Dyer, 114 in St. John boundaries, and 2 in Cedar Lake. Unincorporated calls consisted of 17 and 10 mutual aid.

There were 2 documents included for tonight that showed a 90.5% collection rate. Accounts receivable totaled $289,636.

B. Chief Flores
From February 1, 2021, through February 28, 2021, the members of the St. John Police Department logged 17,229 miles and responded to 497 law incidents. The investigation of these incidents led to 9 arrests with 18 charges being filed. There were 79 traffic citations issued, along with 83 written warnings, for a total of 162 citations being issued during the month. Vehicle thefts totaled $0, other thefts totaled $323, and recovered property totaled $0.

NEW BUSINESS:

A. Chief LaDuke
Chief LaDuke stated that he presented the Board with address-redacted lists for full-time, part-time, and volunteer staff. Mr. DeJong mentioned the discussion at the previous meeting with interest in moving volunteers to part-time status. Chief LaDuke answered that this matter is still being pursued with the Clerk-Treasurer’s Office and Town Council. The direction appears favorable. Mr. Janowiak directed the Board to the agenda items for a vote as follows.
1. Approval of 2021 Full-Time List
Mr. Janowiak entertained a motion to approve the 2021 Full-Time List. Mr. Paradiso made the motion to approve and Mr. Kmetz seconded the motion. All were in favor by voice vote.
2. Approval of 2021 Part-Time List
Mr. Janowiak entertained a motion to approve the 2021 Part-Time List. Mr. DeJong made the motion to approve and Mr. Paradiso seconded the motion. All were in favor by voice vote.
3. Approval of 2021 Volunteer List
Mr. Janowiak entertained a motion to approve the 2021 Volunteer List. Mr. Moran made the motion to approve and Mr. Kmetz seconded the motion. All were in favor by voice vote.
B. Chief Flores
Chief Flores had no new business to report. Mr. Janowiak asked if there were enough personnel to cover all that is required; considering the recent rash of break-ins and carjacking. He went by an accident the other day, and there were 3 officers assisting, which was needed, but wouldn’t that leave the Department short-handed? Chief Flores answered that it does. The Department tries to have 3 officers per shift, although there are times when only 2 are on duty. This occurs if someone calls off sick, is on vacation, or attends training. For the Department to obtain a minimum of 3 officers every shift, he would probably need 3 more officers, maybe 4. The town is getting bigger.

According to FBI standards, the Department should be at 40 officers. St. John has 23 officers. More officers are needed based on the geography of the town and the roads needing coverage. A bad accident can tie up 3 officers for an hour or more depending on the situation. Mr. Janowiak understands that other departments can assist, but oftentimes, they are miles away or busy. He would like to see an effort made to increase personnel for the safety of the citizens and the officers. Chief Flores agreed and added that they are stretched thin at times. It is difficult to be proactive at this point, because it causes personnel to be in response mode. An arrest could cause an officer to be unavailable for a couple hours, leaving 1 officer to cover the entire town. Mr. Janowiak believes this matter needs to be amended.

Mr. Kmetz asked if the Department was looking into grants. Chief Flores answered yes, but the grants are limited as far as the COPS grants occur. An officer was hired by this method years ago, as well as a military hiring grant. The Department does keep watch on available grants.

Mr. Moran asked if the Police Department was told that they would not be able to hire this budget term. Chief Flores answered that this year “no.” He was told maybe 1 officer next year, or if not, it would be the following year; the Department may get 1 officer in 2023.

Mr. DeJong asked if this issue encompasses the Sheriff’s Department task force work that the Department is involved with from discussion at the last meeting. Chief Flores said that the task force is additional coverage. The Police Department overtime budget was increased from $5,000 to $15,000 this year. Every amount will be used for covering shifts and spread throughout the year. Usually, it is a couple days every month that 2 extra officers are available for 6 to 8 hours.

PUBLIC COMMENT:

None

ADJOURNMENT:

Mr. Janowiak called for a motion to adjourn the meeting. Mr. Moran made the motion to adjourn with second made by Mr. Kmetz. All were in favor by voice vote. Meeting adjourned at 6:11 p.m.

Respectfully submitted:

Amy J. Gross, Recording Secretary
St. John Safety Board

04-19-2021 Safety Board

April 19, 2021 Safety Board Meeting Minutes

CALL TO ORDER:

Mr. Janowiak called the St. John Town Safety Board Regular Meeting to order on Monday, April 19, 2021, at 6:00 p.m., and led all in the Pledge of Allegiance.

ROLL CALL:

Safety Board Members present: Robert Kmetz, Vice President; Patrick Moran, Secretary; Raymond Paradiso, Board Member; and Richard Janowiak, President. Also present: Steven Flores, Police Chief; Kevin LaDuke, Fire Chief; Michael Schilling, Town Council Liaison, Attorney Adam Decker, and Clerk-Treasurer Beth Hernandez. Absent: Steve DeJong, Board Member. A quorum was attained.

OATH OF OFFICE:

President Janowiak introduced Clerk-Treasurer Hernandez to provide the oaths to the following full-time members of the St. John Fire Department.

Mike Ciesielski – Firefighter/Paramedic
Matt Easto – Firefighter/Paramedic
Mike Haney – Firefighter/Paramedic
Allison Semethy – Firefighter/Paramedic
Niko Vuckovic – Firefighter/Paramedic

Chief LaDuke explained the tradition of presenting and pinning the badge for each member of the Fire Department. Each sworn Firefighter/Paramedic was invited to the podium with a member of the family to pin the badge.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES:

Mr. Janowiak entertained a motion to approve the minutes for the March 15, 2021 Regular Meeting. Mr. Kmetz made a motion to approve the minutes; Mr. Paradiso seconded the motion. All were in favor by voice vote.

MONTHLY REPORTS:

A. Chief LaDuke
During the month of March 2021, the St. John Fire Department responded to a total of 141 requests for patient contact. Of those contacts, 72 patients were ALS1; 0 patients were ALS2; and 23 patients were BLS. Of the transports, 68% were residents and 32% were non-residents. The majority of patients were transported to Franciscan Health in Dyer and Crown Point. The EMS billing consisted of $102,825 for amount generated, and $60,866 for total monies received.

Regarding fire calls, there were 178 incidents with 138 in St. John boundaries, 1 in Crown Point, 2 in Dyer, and 1 in Cedar Lake. Unincorporated calls consisted of 22 and 13 mutual aid.

B. Chief Flores
From March 1, 2021, through March 31, 2021, the members of the St. John Police Department logged 22,079 miles and responded to 533 law incidents. The investigation of these incidents led to 21 arrests with 33 charges being filed. There were 140 traffic citations issued, along with 177 written warnings, for a total of 317 citations being issued during the month. Vehicle thefts totaled $0, other thefts totaled $5,321, and recovered property totaled $0.

OLD BUSINESS:

A. Chief LaDuke
1. Current Hiring List Exhausted
Chief LaDuke received verbal notification that the two remaining candidates are no longer eligible. One candidate requested to be removed from the list. President Janowiak asked Attorney Decker if there was a requirement to vote on the exhaustion of the list. Attorney Decker responded that there was not such a requirement.

President Janowiak entertained a motion to exhaust the Hiring List due to no viable candidates remaining. Mr. Paradiso made the motion to approve and Mr. Moran seconded the motion. All were in favor by voice vote.

NEW BUSINESS:

A. Chief LaDuke
1. Establishing New Hire List
2. SOG Revision
Chief LaDuke stated that the Fire Department will proceed with establishing a new Hiring List with two parts. The first part is the SOG (Standard Operating Guideline) with the request from the Safety Board to require the CPAT at the time of the interview. The candidates will not make the list without this important requirement. There was no need to vote on the matter per Attorney Decker’s counsel.
3. Area Trends
Chief LaDuke addressed the matter concerning a decrease in the desire to pursue a career with fire departments. Area departments are struggling to attract new members. Previously, St. John and other departments would hire Firefighter/Paramedics, or recruit from existing Firefighter/EMTs to become Paramedics. The cost of training would be covered by the Department. The trend reflects difficulty in obtaining interested candidates with little or no experience to be trained as well. This dilemma continues with the educational costs.
4. Cost-Associated Education for Fire Department
Assuming that the candidate is an EMT, the cost to send such candidate to Paramedic class is $5,200. For each attempt taken with the national registry, testing is $150. The class is 1,500 total hours with 670 hours in the classroom and 830 for the clinical setting. This training is time away from the Fire Department, and in the past, overtime was offered. The training would require payment of overtime or use of compensatory time, both of which have issues. Chief LaDuke continued by explaining the options.
5. Firefighter/EMT
6. Firefighter/Paramedic
Chief LaDuke recommended hiring a Firefighter/EMT. The area does have many Firefighter/EMTs. This hire would be with the idea that the Department sends the candidate to class. The other details regarding overtime or comp time would be worked out with the Town Council and Safety Board at a later date. The candidate would be sent to class within 3 years and have to complete it as well. This should offer enough time to establish the completed process.

The other option would be to hire a Firefighter/Paramedic, which is what has been done in the past. Mr. Moran asked if this would help with more interest in the Department. Chief LaDuke responded that it would due to the existence of Firefighter/EMTs in the area. The Medic class would need to be addressed, but they are at a point where the vast majority of staff are Paramedics. Eventually, everyone should have the class for new hires, however, it is not a need right now. President Janowiak asked how much time was needed to complete the class. Chief LaDuke recommended 3 years, but there needs to be discussion among the elected and appointed officials on how to handle the time away from work and compensation. Mr. Paradiso added that there should be a contract signed prior to class for the candidate to spend a specified number of years with St. John Fire Department before leaving. LaDuke agreed and added that two candidates did sign a contract and fulfilled commitments in the past. Mr. Paradiso stated that the Paramedic status would be weighed heavier.

LaDuke introduced the point matrix prepared for the agenda; one for FF/Paramedic and the other for FF/EMT. The FF/Paramedic receives more points in the EMT application process, but the hiring would be open to EMT. He added that Attorney Decker would need to review the contract regarding the number of attempts given to pass training; traditionally is has been 6 attempts. Twelve members are on staff full time, and all but one is a Paramedic. At least one Paramedic is needed to provide ALS (Advanced Life Support). St. John provides a higher service by allowing 2 Paramedics to go on a call the majority of time. Hiring an EMT would not pose a decline of this service to the community. There are occasions when an EMT and Paramedic are provided, which is well within the state ALS certification. An EMT class takes 6 months, 2 days per week, and about 60 hours of clinical time.

Chief LaDuke added that one more option would be to provide an open hire. This offer would go out to people with no experience. Points would be given to candidates if they are a Firefighter, and EMT, etc. The matrix would be amended giving more points for such qualifications. He requested some direction from the Board on how to proceed. He also provided a timeline of schedules with dates for testing and interviews with the agenda. If a vacancy occurs, it would take 3 to 4 months to fill it. The tests would need to be ordered.

According to the proposed schedule, the advertising would occur from April 26 to May 24. Two exams would take place to accommodate candidates working 24/48 schedules at other departments. Written exams would be May 31 and June 1. Administrative interviews would occur on June 28 and 29 with Line Officer interviews on July 5 and 6. The List Certification comes next with a proposed date of July 19 to the Safety Board.

Mr. Moran requested clarification of the options and Chief LaDuke’s recommendation. The options reiterated were to: 1) hire a Firefighter/EMT; 2) hire a Firefighter/Paramedic; or 3) do a general hire for a Firefighter or just someone with an EMT. The last hiring campaign was for a FF/Paramedic that produced 11 applicants with 2 withdrawals, and 1 was an EMT. The Department tested with 9 candidates. Finally, there were 7 applicants on the list that exhausted. Chief believes that opening the next hire to EMTs would produce more candidates. The Town’s Salary Ordinance would require amendment to include a position for a Firefighter only or EMT only.

President Janowiak recommended further review of the information before making a decision. Chief LaDuke said it could be tabled until the next meeting, but he wanted the Board to be aware that there is no one on a list to be offered a position if a vacancy occurs. The dates on the schedule would simply be amended to coincide with the decision. Mr. Moran and Mr. Paradiso felt comfortable with the suggestion of a Firefighter or an EMT. Mr. Janowiak stated that he thought the CPAT requirement was included with the last hiring, but discovered it was not, thus referencing to the current state of affairs with no candidates remaining on a list. Chief LaDuke directed the Board to the matrix drafts with the stipulation that the candidate must have the CPAT. It would also be advertised as such, and it is in the SOG. Mr. Moran requested to vote on the matter.

President Janowiak entertained a motion per Mr. Moran’s request to expand the hiring requirements to include a Firefighter/EMT and a Firefighter/Paramedic using the existing point matrix that Chief LaDuke outlined, and with stipulation of timeframe for further certification, subject to a contract. Mr. Moran made the motion to approve and Mr. Kmetz seconded the motion. All were in favor by voice vote.

B. Chief Flores
Chief Flores welcomed all the new Firefighter/Paramedics to the St. John Fire Department. The Police Department has a good working relationship, and it is exciting to have new members.

Within the last week and a half, St. John had another ruse burglary. An elderly man, whose wife passed away, was lured to the back of his house while others went inside to steal jewelry and money. This situation has been increasing due to favorable weather. The burglars drive around and look for an opportunity. He cautioned residents to be aware and warn elderly citizens of this situation. The suspects were identified and charges are pending.

Lastly, the second K-9 Unit anticipates training to begin in mid-May. This is 6 to 8 weeks long depending on the officer-to-canine relationship. A squad is being completed to accommodate the new Unit.

PUBLIC COMMENT:

None

ADJOURNMENT:

Mr. Janowiak called for a motion to adjourn the meeting. Mr. Paradiso made the motion to adjourn with second made by Mr. Moran. All were in favor by voice vote. Meeting adjourned at 6:20 p.m.

Respectfully submitted:

Amy J. Gross, Recording Secretary
St. John Safety Board

05-17-2021 Safety Board

May 17, 2021 Safety Board Meeting Minutes

CALL TO ORDER:

Mr. Janowiak called the St. John Town Safety Board Regular Meeting to order on Monday, May 17, 2021, at 6:00 p.m., and led all in the Pledge of Allegiance.

ROLL CALL:

Safety Board Members present: Steve DeJong, Board Member; Robert Kmetz, Vice President; Raymond Paradiso, Board Member; and Richard Janowiak, President. Also present: Steven Flores, Police Chief; Kevin LaDuke, Fire Chief; and Attorney Adam Decker. Absent: Patrick Moran, Secretary; and Michael Schilling, Town Council Liaison. A quorum was attained.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES:

Mr. Janowiak entertained a motion to approve the minutes for the April 19, 2021 Regular Meeting. Mr. Paradiso made a motion to approve the minutes; Mr. Kmetz seconded the motion. All were in favor by voice vote.

MONTHLY REPORTS:

A. Chief LaDuke
During the month of April 2021, the St. John Fire Department responded to a total of 108 requests for patient contact with 70% being transported to the hospital. Residents consisted of 63% with non-residents covering the remaining 37%. Franciscan Health in Crown Point accepted 34% of the transports, 41% were transported to Franciscan Health in Dyer, and Community Hospital in Munster was the next highest transport location. The EMS billing consisted of $81,137.30 for amount generated, and $54,561.52 for total monies received.

Regarding fire calls, there were 144 incidents—2 being in the corporate limits of St. John with a Crown Point zip code, 4 were in the corporate limits of St. John with a Dyer zip code, and 113 calls were within the St. John zip code corporate boundaries. There were also 2 calls in the St. John boundaries with a Cedar Lake zip code, 11 calls in the contracted area of St. John Township, and finally, 12 calls for mutual aid; 5 of which were building fires.

B. Chief Flores
From April 1, 2021, through April 30, 2021, the members of the St. John Police Department logged 22,799 miles and responded to 531 law incidents. The investigation of these incidents led to 11 arrests with 19 charges being filed. There were 49 traffic citations issued, along with 109 written warnings, for a total of 158 citations being issued during the month. Vehicle thefts totaled $0, other thefts totaled $91,300, and recovered property totaled $0.

The theft amount of $91,300 was predominately the ruse burglary as discussed at the last Safety Board meeting. St. John Police is working with other Illinois agencies having similar cases. Chief Flores anticipates charges being filed.

NEW BUSINESS:

A. Chief LaDuke
1. Hiring Process
Chief LaDuke reported that the Fire Department is accepting applications for the position of Firefighter/EMT as the minimum. There are currently 10 applications submitted with a deadline on April 24 at 5:00 p.m. There were some questions from applicants regarding those participating in the 1977 PERF Pension Fund. These would be considered lateral transfers who are asking about taking the CPAT physical agility test. Chief LaDuke answered that this would be a question provided to the Safety Board. He requested the Board’s opinion on this matter. The Board agreed that the requirements remain as advertised.
B. Chief Flores
1. Towing Proposals
Chief Flores reported that the annual towing proposals are coming up this year. The legal notices in the Times and Post Tribune are scheduled for publication on Friday, May 21. At that time, the documentation will be handed out to the interested towing firms. The deadline to accept proposals is Friday, June 4 at 4:00 p.m. The Safety Board will open and review the proposals at the Regular Meeting of June 21 at 6:00 p.m. followed by the recommendation to the Town Council on July 19. The Town Council would then approve recommendation from the Board on July 28.

Chief Flores asked if the tow proposal process could be done every two years rather than annually. Attorney Decker stated that the Safety Board could review the topic and Town Council input would be appropriate. Chief Flores added that there is quite a bit of work to be done from the towing firms’ perspective every year regarding the packets. He asked the Safety Board if they would entertain this idea.

Mr. DeJong requested Chief’s recommendation. Chief Flores answered that two years would be sufficient. Mr. Paradiso inquired if the firms are generally the same applying, and Chief Flores said that they were the same. The chosen firms are those who have been towing for many years. Mr. Paradiso added that if Chief Flores is comfortable with two years, then that is fine with him. Mr. Kmetz commented that multi-year would be good. He recalls an issue last year with incompletion of proposals that were resubmitted. He believes that if things were not listed on the proposal, then firms should have been out. He stressed that the firms should not be leaving anything out with multi-year proposals either.

Mr. DeJong commented that the Board went from three firms (in 2019) to two firms (in 2020). He asked Chief Flores if it was his intention to retain two companies again. Chief answered that it was his recommendation to do so. Mr. Janowiak mentioned that Chief Flores previously reviewed the proposals and the Board listened to his recommendation because he was familiar with the companies and all. Chief added that the proposals will be reviewed by the Board at the upcoming meeting and he will make a recommendation.

Mr. DeJong noted the steps involved—receive the proposals as usual, and possibly at the time of review, recommend to do a two-year contract pending the approval of Town Council—that way it is not revisited next year to extend it. Mr. Kmetz believed they would have to do a two-year contract up front, because if the firms are proposing, they will want to know. Mr. Paradiso added that they would have to let this year go by, and next year it can be noted as a two-year contract.

Finally, Attorney Decker advised that he would need to see the legal notice and if it specifically indicated a one-year contract. He would recommend doing the towing service for one year, and then the advertising could be for two years once the Board of Safety and Town Council approve a two-year contract. It would be best done next year. Chief Flores suggested that it could still be directed to the Council’s attention this year.

PUBLIC COMMENT:

Suzanne Gonzalez—1445 Autumn Drive, Crown Point—is from All Pro Towing and will be reapplying this year. Last year, it went down to two firms and they were previously a part of it. Chief Flores stated that it was no fault of their own as they just wanted to reduce the firms due to tows being down. She stated that there are many more people moving into the area and much more activity. She believes that there is plenty of business for everybody. They are looking forward to having a chance to serve the people of St. John again. She wanted to confirm if packets were being picked up today. Chief Flores answered that the notice will be in the papers first (May 21), and then the packets will be available at his office.

OTHER BUSINESS:

Mr. DeJong announced that it was EMS Week and acknowledged the Fire Department for their service.

Mr. Paradiso wanted to make a motion to consider going to a two-year towing contract beginning in 2022. Mr. Janowiak acknowledged his motion and asked for a second. Mr. Kmetz made the second. All were in favor by voice vote.

ADJOURNMENT:

Mr. Janowiak called for a motion to adjourn the meeting. Mr. Kmetz made the motion to adjourn with second made by Mr. DeJong. All were in favor by voice vote. Meeting adjourned at 6:19 p.m.

Respectfully submitted:

Amy J. Gross, Recording Secretary
St. John Safety Board

06-21-2021 Safety Board

June 21, 2021 Safety Board Meeting Minutes

CALL TO ORDER:

Mr. Janowiak called the St. John Town Safety Board Regular Meeting to order on Monday, June 21, 2021, at 6:00 p.m., and led all in the Pledge of Allegiance.

ROLL CALL:

Safety Board Members present: Steve DeJong, Board Member; Robert Kmetz, Vice President; Patrick Moran, Secretary; and Raymond Paradiso, Board Member. Also present: Steven Flores, Police Chief; Kevin LaDuke, Fire Chief; Chris Salatas, Town Manager; and Attorney Adam Decker. Absent: Richard Janowiak, President; and Michael Schilling, Town Council Liaison. A quorum was attained.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES:

Mr. Kmetz entertained a motion to approve the minutes for the May 17, 2021 Regular Meeting. Mr. Paradiso made a motion to approve the minutes; Mr. DeJong seconded the motion. All were in favor by voice vote.

OPENING & REVIEW – Police-Directed Towing Services:

Chief Flores announced that the towing services are due for renewal. The final decision will be made by the Town Council in July. The publication to accept proposals was published in the NWI Times and Post Tribune on Friday, May 21, 2021. Chief Flores procured the sealed envelopes from the towing contractors and the Proofs of Publication. Four firms obtained and submitted a proposal; Tom & Ed’s Autobody, Stan’s Towing, Kubiak’s Service, and All Pro Towing.

Chief Flores continued by opening the sealed envelopes beginning with Stan’s Towing. The next envelope opened was from All Pro Towing. Chief Flores handed a copy to Board Members for a quick review. He stated that further review will occur for any errors, changes or additions that need to be made. The final recommendation will be given to the Safety Board in July with their recommendation to the Town Council for the following week. Kubiak’s Service was the next proposal to be opened followed by Tom & Ed’s Autobody. Mr. Kmetz asked Chief Flores if he would make sure that all the proper documents are complete. The last time there was some missing items and he did not want to run into that again. Chief Flores said he will review them and copies will be forwarded to the Board Members. It appeared that everything was okay, but further review was needed. Again, the final recommendation will be at the next meeting in July. Mr. DeJong commented that some proposals were a little more complete than others. He added that last year a fee schedule was missing from one contractor.

MONTHLY REPORTS:

A. Fire Department – Chief LaDuke
During the month of May 2021, the St. John Fire Department responded to a total of 135 requests for patient contact with 90 being transported to the hospital. Of those contacts, 72 were ALS 1, 1 was ALS 2, and 17 were BLS. Resident transports consisted of 60 patients and 30 non-residents. The vast majority of patients were transported to Franciscan-Dyer at 49% followed by Franciscan-Crown Point. The total monies generated in May was unavailable, but will be provided later. A software application called Continuum was purchased that adds to the reporting by generating heat maps, graphs, etc. This will be a good supplement to the existing reports.

Regarding fire calls, there were 167 incidents—1 was in the district of in-town corporate limits of Crown Point, 10 in-town corporate limits of Dyer, 139 in-town corporate limits of St. John, 3 in-town corporate limits of Cedar Lake, 7 unincorporated area, and 6 mutual aid requests.

B. Police Department – Chief Flores
From May 1, 2021, through May 31, 2021, the members of the St. John Police Department logged 24,078 miles and responded to 534 law incidents. The investigation of these incidents led to 19 arrests with 27 charges being filed. There were 86 traffic citations issued, along with 106 written warnings, for a total of 192 citations being issued during the month. Vehicle thefts totaled $24,895, other thefts totaled $4,216, and recovered property totaled $24,895.

OLD BUSINESS:

A. Fire Department
1. Hiring Process Update
Chief LaDuke reported that 19 applications were submitted with 3 non-qualified for either being late or not meeting all the requirements. Testing occurred with 16 applicants. There were 3 who failed to receive 70% or higher score. There were also 2 withdrawals after the testing due to vacation leave or medical reasons. There are 11 remaining applicants. Chief LaDuke provided the Board Members with an updated score matrix. Next will be the administrative interviews. Mr. DeJong and Mr. Paradiso were involved in the last interview phase. Scheduled dates were also provided to the Board. Of the 11 candidates, there are 2 Paramedics and 9 EMT’s. Both Medics participate in Indiana PERF at other departments.

NEW BUSINESS:

A. Fire Department
Chief LaDuke explained that traditionally, when an employee ends the probation period, the Board is asked to end the probation and a letter is sent to the Clerk-Treasurer’s Office for the pay to be increased to the normal wage. Two Firefighter/Paramedics are ending their probation periods before the next Safety Board meeting.
1. Firefighter/Paramedic Haney – Probation Period Complete July 5
Chief LaDuke recommended moving Mr. Haney to full-time status effective July 5.

Mr. Kmetz entertained a motion to move Mr. Haney to full-time status with his pay to be increased accordingly effective July 5. Mr. DeJong made the motion with second made by Mr. Paradiso. All were in favor by voice vote.

2. Firefighter/ Paramedic Easto – Probation Period Complete July 7
Chief LaDuke recommended moving Mr. Easto to full-time status effective July 7.

Mr. Kmetz entertained a motion to move Mr. Easto to full-time status on July 7 from probationary to full-time status. Mr. Moran made the motion with second made by Mr. Paradiso. All were in favor by voice vote.

3. Firefighter/Paramedic Ciesielski – Full-Time Resignation & Reinstatement to Part-Time Status
Mr. Ciesielski submitted his resignation the end of May. He accepted full-time employment with the City of Crown Point, however, he did move to part-time status with St. John Fire Department. This item was for informational purposes; no vote was required.
4. Personnel Departure & Filling Positions
Chief LaDuke thanked members of the Board for speaking with him, and with Town Council members, separately. Some issues discussed have been the budget and matters related to filling positions. One of the issues the Department faces is the salary compared to other departments. There is some room for improvement, but this takes Town Council action. Another reason for employee leave has been the retirement benefits. Many communities offer firefighters and police officers the group insurance at the employee rate even after they leave said employment prior to the age where Medicare begins. St. John has a similar coverage, although the premium has to be paid. He has been speaking with members of the Board and Council to rectify the situation. Lastly, the pay discrepancy in comparison to the Police Department is a concern. He appreciates the effort from the appointment and elected officials to work with him on some of these issues. Mr. Moran had inquired with Chief LaDuke about the “revolving door” that they are having with the Fire Department. If the benefits or salary were improved, would this be something to look at to keep people? Chief LaDuke answered that the 3 people who left in the last nine months mentioned this issue as two went to Crown Point and one went to Hammond. There is a significant pay increase compared to St. John.

The other item was that the police and fire departments are the same. It would be a step forward to alleviate people from leaving. He added that it is more benefit driven. He explained the Department’s pay structure that has three different pay cycles; a large check, a medium check, and a small check. It is all based on the FSLA guidelines—anything over 212 (hours) in a 28-day cycle is overtime—the idea would be to float it with the base salary amount divided by 26 pays, so there are equal checks. That would be helpful and no cost to the Town. Another item is the pension base, which is lower than what is actually made. This is partly due to the certified salary for the 1977 Police and Firefighters’ Pension Fund. That certified amount does not include the overtime, therefore, the FSLA time is used as the benefit amount. If the First Class Patrolman and Firefighter/Paramedic amounts were equal, that would be a huge step forward.

Mr. Moran wanted to go on record stating that he supports anything that Chief LaDuke can do to make St. John the best destination for firefighters. It bothered him that two meetings ago, an employee was sworn in and three weeks later, he left. He would like to fix this problem, whatever it takes to keep them here. Chief LaDuke appreciated the support and was looking for it when the Town Council asks; support from the Safety Board. Also, the men and women across the street (referencing the Fire Department) appreciate it.

B. Police Department
Chief Flores reported that the new K-9 Officer is in training and it is going well with him and partner (Raider). The training should be complete by Friday, July 9. His first shift with the dog is anticipated for the following Monday. The dog has a good temperament and is a good fit.

St. John Police Department has been working with the Lake County Sheriff’s Department, among other agencies, with the license plate reader cameras (LPR’s). St. John is moving forward with obtaining its own camera soon and not just the software access. The Sheriff’s Department has installed several cameras around St. John that our Department has access to, so it is a tremendous tool for the patrol division and investigators. There is a large investigative portal in the software available to us. The camera should be functional by the next meeting.

Mr. Moran asked if the K-9 Units will be working separate shifts. Chief Flores answered that there will be a K-9 Officer on each shift.

PUBLIC COMMENT:

None

ADJOURNMENT:

Mr. Kmetz called for a motion to adjourn the meeting. Mr. Moran made the motion to adjourn with second made by Mr. Paradiso. All were in favor by voice vote. Meeting adjourned at 6:24 p.m.

Respectfully submitted:

Amy J. Gross, Recording Secretary
St. John Safety Board

07-19-2021 Safety Board

July 19, 2021 Safety Board Meeting Minutes

CALL TO ORDER:

Mr. Janowiak called the St. John Town Safety Board Regular Meeting to order on Monday, July 19, 2021, at 6:00 p.m., and led all in the Pledge of Allegiance.

ROLL CALL:

Safety Board Members present: Steve DeJong, Board Member; Robert Kmetz, Vice President; Patrick Moran, Secretary; Raymond Paradiso, Board Member; and Richard Janowiak, President. Also present: Steven Flores, Police Chief; Kevin LaDuke, Fire Chief; Chris Salatas, Town Manager; and Attorney Adam Decker. Absent: Michael Schilling, Town Council Liaison. A quorum was attained.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES:

Mr. Janowiak entertained a motion to approve the minutes for the June 21, 2021 Regular Meeting. Mr. DeJong made a motion to approve the minutes; Mr. Kmetz seconded the motion. All were in favor by voice vote.

MONTHLY REPORTS:

A. Fire Department – Chief LaDuke
During the month of June 2021, the St. John Fire Department responded to a total of 161 requests for patient contact with115 being transported to the hospital. Of those contacts, 91 were ALS 1, 1 was ALS 2, and 23 were BLS. Resident transports consisted of 75 patients and 40 non-residents. The majority of patients were transported to Franciscan-Dyer at 50% followed by Franciscan-Crown Point at 26%, and Munster Community at 17%. The total monies generated are $125,389.80 with total monies received of $48,836.59.

Regarding fire calls, there were 210 incidents. In the corporate limits of St. John, there were 171 calls, 1 call with Crown Point address, 8 calls with Dyer addresses, and 1 with a Cedar Lake address. Unincorporated calls consisted of 15 and 13 mutual aid.

B. Police Department – Chief Flores
From June 1, 2021, through June 30, 2021, the members of the St. John Police Department logged 18,728 miles and responded to 513 law incidents. The investigation of these incidents led to 14 arrests with 38 charges being filed. There were 66 traffic citations issued, along with 64 written warnings, for a total of 130 citations being issued during the month. Vehicle thefts totaled $0, other thefts totaled $3,960, and recovered property totaled $0.

OLD BUSINESS:

A. Fire Department
1. Hiring Process Update
Hiring List Certification
Chief LaDuke provided the full-point matrix of the hiring process to the Safety Board and requested the approval of the hiring list to certify the 7 selected applicants. This would be for the remaining portion of 2021 to December 31, 2022. The candidates listed are 1) Justin Andras, 2) Zack Strbjak, 3) Lindsay Kusbel, 4) Cody Pendfold, 5) Jeremiah Dayarmin, 6) Jacob Vickery, and 7) Dominic Zuccarelli.

Mr. Janowiak entertained a motion to approve the list as presented. Mr. Moran made the motion with second made by Mr. DeJong. All were in favor by voice vote.

Open Position Filling – Hiring List
Due to the spot vacated by Mr. Ciesielski, there is an open position for the first applicant on the list. Chief LaDuke requested approval to offer this position to Justin Andras on July 20, 2021 for Firefighter/Paramedic.

Mr. Janowiak entertained a motion to approve the offer of employment as stated. Mr. Kmetz made the motion with second made by Mr. Paradiso. All were in favor by voice vote.

Chief LaDuke added that he has been speaking with the Town Manager and Town Council Members to fill another position, but this would not be until the next Safety Board meeting. There would be a promotion for the Deputy Chief, and to fill his spot would be another position.

B. Police Department
1. Police-Directed Towing Services
Chief Flores reported that Proposals were distributed to the Safety Board Members and copies were present at this Meeting. Attorney Decker reviewed them as well. Moving forward the recommendation would be to retain Stan’s Towing and Kubiak’s Service. He requested the Safety Board recommendation to be forwarded to the Town Council for their next meeting; July 28, 2021. This would be for a period of 1 year, and then the Town Council can consider approval of two-year contracts.

Mr. Janowiak entertained a motion to recommend Stan’s Towing and Kubiak’s Service to the Town Council. Mr. DeJong made the motion with second made by Mr. Paradiso. All were in favor by voice with the exception of Mr. Janowiak who abstained.

Mr. Kmetz noted that the next time the proposals come up, the Board expects the applications to be completed. Things were left out for two years in a row and this takes up everyone’s time.

NEW BUSINESS:

A. Fire Department
Probation Period Ending and Recommendation – Niko Vuckovic
Chief LaDuke reported that Niko Vuckovic completes his probationary period on July 30. As done last month, he was looking for a motion from the Board to move Mr. Vuckovic from the probationary period to a regular full-time member. Mr. DeJong asked about the hire date, and Chief LaDuke recollected January 30 as his start date. Mr. DeJong stated that we are just over six months. He asked Chief LaDuke what has been the standard probation period. Chief answered that probation periods have been six months per Town policy.

Discussion ensued concerning agenda items and correlation to policies and procedures.

Mr. DeJong stated that the Board had asked for policies and procedures to be written. One of the things from the beginning was that there were not very good written policies and procedures. Mr. DeJong recalled having asked for this information by June. Such procedures should cover probationary periods, hiring practices, tests and practices, and so on. He recommends not moving forward with anything other than the Deputy Chief appointment, which Chief LaDuke was given full authority to do, until the Safety Board has time to review and approve policies and procedures of the Fire Department.

Chief LaDuke stated that the probationary period is defined by Town policy and that is what was followed for the two employees prior to this meeting. He is concerned that there may be past precedence since the last two employees were approved. Mr. DeJong said that past precedence starts today. As far as the law goes, past precedence is whatever the Safety Board or the authority having jurisdiction sets it as. He doesn’t believe they have had enough time to review anything regarding moving forward, and yet they are making decisions and doing things along with tests. He just thinks they need to set the policies and procedures before moving forward with anything else, and that is his opinion.

Mr. Janowiak added that they received a list of things to look at and approve on a Friday afternoon for this meeting, and by Monday, this isn’t enough time to go through, especially as this complicated, nor did they have any effort to put in any communication or concerns about it. Even with the probation period, he would not want to hire someone off this list and give them a 6-month probation, and then try to change it to one year for everybody else. They need to be consistent. When something changes, it needs to be consistent all the way through.

Chief Flores was asked about the probation period for a police officer. He answered that it was one year. Mr. DeJong added that national practice is one year, so he would look for nothing less for probation regarding a firefighter/paramedic or police officer being hired. Chief LaDuke agreed and stated he was just following procedure as set by the Town. Mr. DeJong continued to address an item on the agenda being Standard Operating Guidelines (SOG). He believes an SOG allows an incident commander to make deviations based on what they are having. He doesn’t believe that a hiring or promotional practice is a guideline. It needs to be set policy, so there is no guideline or gray area. It is what the Board says versus what the Chief’s input is. There is a little bit of groundwork to do before they move on to anything else.

Mr. DeJong announced that he would like to defer any status changes from this point forward until they establish the policy along with firefighter/paramedic hiring. It was mentioned possibly next month to have another vacancy to fill within the ranks. Chief LaDuke emphasized that would be if they moved the Deputy Chief. Mr. DeJong continued by stating that in the beginning the Board had given the authority for the Fire Chief to appoint the Deputy Chief. He doesn’t believe that the Battalion Chief should be an appointed rank, but rather a tested rank. In this case, the testing and its criteria needs to be established and that goes with every rank on down.

Chief LaDuke asked what the Board’s direction was on the Deputy Chief. Mr. DeJong answered that from the beginning—even through the Board and selection process for his position—was that he was given the authority to appoint the Deputy Chief. By law, it is believed that Chief LaDuke has that authority. The Police Chief or Fire Chief has the purview to appoint his or her Deputy Chief. Mr. Janowiak added that no one has a problem with the issue of appointing the Deputy Chief. It’s everything else that is getting conflicting. Mr. Paradiso stated that the Deputy Chief is an administrative position. A Battalion Chief and down are operational positions. They need to be tested for it, so Chief LaDuke and the Board are sure that the candidates are 100% qualified for these jobs. It was understood by Chief LaDuke as he was just looking for the okay by the Board regarding the Deputy Chief. Mr. Janowiak answered that this was his call and no one appears to have a problem with it.

Grants Secured – Firehouse Subs, TC Pipeline
Finally, Chief LaDuke reported that the Fire Department secured a grant from Firehouse Subs for some hoses and nozzles, and TC Pipeline provided information for securing $30,000 to $50,000 for hydraulic extrication gear.

Chief LaDuke added that the Deputy Chief assignment will help tremendously with getting the policies and procedures established. This appointment will free up his time to do so. Mr. DeJong advised Chief to make sure he is following the purchasing policy for the grants obtained.

B. Police Department
2022 Budget Discussions – Future Hiring Potential
Chief Flores reported that they are beginning the work for the 2022 budget. Department Heads are meeting with the Town Manager weekly to discuss operations, which is much needed. The 5-year plan has been updated and there are a few more figures to arrive at for meeting with the Town Manager. Hopefully, the Town Council will give approval to hire a new officer next year. The hiring list is still valid until October.

Within the next five years, Chief hopes to get an additional two to three officers. More officers are needed severely as the Safety Board is aware. There was a bad auto accident last week on 93rd Avenue involving a fatality. This incident shut down the roadway for about four hours. There were three officers on duty that day, but two officers were busy with the accident. There was only one officer covering the Town for that long. There are moments when two officers are on duty. Dyer came to assist due to the shortage. The Town Manager is well aware of the need for more officers also. Chief Flores will keep the Board updated on this matter.

Mr. Janowiak commented that one or two people now would not be sufficient. With the accident having shut down the road and one officer available—how many officers are sent on a domestic call as standard procedure? Chief Flores answered that two officers go on such a call. The second officer is coming then from Dyer (referencing the situation addressed). Dyer is a long way off from this end of Town when you need help, and a domestic can be some of the worst calls to handle. The Department needs more officers and a lot sooner. Chief Flores added that it is scary sometimes when only two or three officers are available with some of the situations they deal with lately. It is not easy sitting in his position knowing that the officers are faced with that position. To get where he wants to be, a minimum of 4 officers is needed right now. There is no way that’s going to happen.

According to the national standards, St. John should be at about 40 officers; there are 23. Mr. Moran added that there are six or seven developments going to be approved within that time frame, so that’s about 700 to 1,000 homes with 2 to 3 people per home. There is a need. Mr. Paradiso added that they can’t make the final approval or appointments, but the Board can back up Chief Flores. He believes what is needed, and that is for both sides because both desperately need manpower, is to sit down and brainstorm, and put together the reasons why this manpower is needed, and then go to the Town Council with a full solid proposal. This makes it a little more in our favor of what we need as far as police officers and more firefighters. Mr. Moran added that for him it is a no-brainer. All these extra people (referring to the developments) equal calls for service—the hot calls and the mundane calls—so you add all those extra people on top of what we already have with three officers per shift, he’s worried that there will be a tragedy. Mr. Paradiso understood that point, but if the Board goes to the Council with a structured proposal that they can give to them. Mr. Moran stated that all they (the Council) has to do is listen to this meeting on YouTube. They know what we want.

Chief Flores added that it is no secret—they (the Council) know too that we are hurting. As quick as this Town is growing, we are going to have to do something. The Department cannot continue in the pace they are now. Unfortunately, he hopes that no one gets hurt or has to be told “I told you so” and it’s too late. Mr. Paradiso added that there were only four firefighters on duty during the holiday weekend. Two were stuck on an ambulance call and they had a fire. A Department cannot fight a fire, or even go with a first-line engine, and do anything constructive with two people. One person has to man the line and the other has to be the engineer. You can’t send one person into a fire.

Mr. Moran said the issue for him is supervision on a shift. There are times when there are no supervisors. You have a senior officer working, which he feels is unacceptable. Mr. Janowiak added that, especially in a police department, you have a patrolman doing a supervisor’s job, and if he makes a bad decision—has he had the training, has he had the experience, and something’s going to happen—who they are going to come at—him. Chief Flores reiterated that he would have a minimum of three officers and a supervisor on every shift. Mr. DeJong asked about the current hiring list. Chief Flores confirmed that the current list is good until October of next year. The top candidate reached out about six months ago as he was told the Department would be hiring in 2022, and that candidate said that he was still interested.

PUBLIC COMMENT:

Suzy Gonzalez of 1445 Autumn Drive, Crown Point, and representing All Pro Towing, requested to be placed on the rotation for towing services. She stated that when All Pro Towing was relieved of services last year, there were 128 tows year to date according to Chief Flores. The records of All Pro Towing reflect 87 tows were performed by their organization. She also commented on a tow that received compliments by Chief Flores. Other matters were noted of using electronic means to track receipts and photographs being taken with a history for each ticket.

Andy Tylka of 1225 Birch Drive, Schererville, and representing Tom & Ed’s Autobody commented on the growth of the Town and scaling down the towing as questionable, especially when 20% of people are involved in accidents per year. That would produce 400 more accidents and they typically happen closer to home. He suggests adding another towing agency and appreciates the Board’s consideration.

ADJOURNMENT:

Mr. Janowiak called for a motion to adjourn the meeting. Mr. Moran made the motion to adjourn with second made by Mr. Kmetz. All were in favor by voice vote. Meeting adjourned at 6:25 p.m.

Respectfully submitted:

Amy J. Gross, Recording Secretary
St. John Safety Board

08-16-2021 Safety Board

August 16, 2021 Safety Board Meeting Minutes

CALL TO ORDER:

Mr. Janowiak called the St. John Town Safety Board Regular Meeting to order on Monday, August 16, 2021, at 5:59 p.m., and led all in the Pledge of Allegiance.

ROLL CALL:

Safety Board Members present: Steve DeJong, Board Member; Patrick Moran, Secretary; Raymond Paradiso, Board Member; and Richard Janowiak, President. Also present: Steven Flores, Police Chief; Kevin LaDuke, Fire Chief; Chris Salatas, Town Manager; and Attorney Adam Decker. Absent: Robert Kmetz, Vice President; Michael Schilling, Town Council Liaison. A quorum was attained.

Mr. Kmetz arrived at 6:06 p.m.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES:

Mr. Janowiak entertained a motion to approve the minutes for the July 19, 2021 Regular Meeting. Mr. Paradiso made a motion to approve the minutes; Mr. Moran seconded the motion. All were in favor by voice vote.

AMENDMENT TO THE AGENDA:

Mr. Janowiak entertained a motion to amend the agenda for Chief Flores to present the Police Department Monthly Report and the item in New Business for body cameras.

Mr. DeJong made the motion to amend the agenda with second made by Mr. Paradiso. All were in favor by voice vote.

MONTHLY REPORTS:

A. Police Department – Chief Flores
From July 1, 2021, through July 31, 2021, the members of the St. John Police Department logged 15,475 miles and responded to 508 law incidents. The investigation of these incidents led to 10 arrests with 17 charges being filed. There were 47 traffic citations issued, along with 70 written warnings, for a total of 117 citations being issued during the month. Vehicle thefts totaled $0, other thefts totaled $7,550, and recovered property totaled $0.

Chief Flores reported on the body cameras listed as New Business on the agenda. The Department has been working with the Town Manager and Town Council to implement a body camera program using grant funds. The grant information was submitted today. It is a 50/50 grant with roughly $17,000 obligated to the Town. This is a low-cost investment as Cedar Lake will be investing $315,000 for body cameras. St. John Police already uses an in-car camera program and donated funds are available to use for the body cameras. If awarded, the grant would allow for a body camera for every officer including two spare units.

Chief Flores was dismissed at approximately 6:03 p.m. to attend to extra patrol and security concerning a Lake Central High School meeting.

B. Fire Department – Chief LaDuke
During the month of July 2021, the St. John Fire Department responded to a total of 113 requests for patient contact with 81 being transported to the hospital. Of those contacts, 69 were ALS 1, 2 were ALS 2, and 10 were BLS. Resident transports consisted of 60 patients and 21 non-residents. The majority of patients were transported to Franciscan-Dyer at 52% followed by Franciscan-Crown Point at 35%, and Munster Community at 13%. The total monies generated are $86,928.90 with total monies received of $66,865.25.

Regarding fire calls, there were 145 incidents. In the corporate limits of St. John, there were 126 calls, 2 calls with Crown Point addresses, and 5 calls with Dyer addresses. Unincorporated calls consisted of 5 in the contracted St. John Township and 13 were for mutual aid.

OLD BUSINESS:

A. Fire Department
1. Policies Update
Policies are being drafted and shared with the Safety Board for feedback.
2. Niko Vuckovic – Back Date to 7/30/21 Removal of Probation; Favorable Recommendation to Back Pay
Chief LaDuke is seeking a favorable recommendation from the Safety Board to remove the probation period and back pay Firefighter/Paramedic Vuckovic to the date of July 30, 2021.

Mr. Janowiak entertained a motion to remove the probation and back pay as requested. Mr. Paradiso made the motion with second made by Mr. DeJong. All were in favor by voice vote.

Mr. Janowiak addressed emails that were received by all Safety Board members. He stated that the Board was threatened, not physically, but with lawsuits and actions by lawyers. He did not appreciate it and believes that the way to handle business is to talk with people. At the last meeting, it was mentioned that the Board was not changing anyone else’s probation. Chief LaDuke understood their concerns and passed on the information to the two individuals who made contact with the board members. Mr. DeJong added that anything that comes to the Board goes through the Chiefs first.

NEW BUSINESS:

A. Fire Department
1. Allison Craft Removal of Probation September 13, 2021
Chief LaDuke requested a favorable recommendation for Allison Craft to have her probation removed effective September 13, 2021 as the Safety Board will not meet again until after that date. Ms. Craft and Mr. Vuckovic are the last two employees with the 6-month probation.

Mr. Janowiak entertained a motion to move Ms. Craft from probation effective September 13, 2021 provided that she successfully completes the remaining probation. Mr. Moran made the motion with second made by Mr. Kmetz. All were in favor by voice vote.

2. Justin Andras – New Hire Start Date of August 1, 2021
Chief LaDuke reported that Mr. Andras was the most recent hire with a one-year probation. He started on August 1, 2021.
3. Deputy Chief Gillette in Office August 30, 2021
Deputy Chief Gillette will have his first day in office on August 30, 2021. For payroll purposes his start date will be with the pay period beginning August 28, 2021.
4. Staffing Level Update
Chief LaDuke reported that he continues to work on additional personnel with the Town Council. The Department is struggling somewhat with part-time positions. Mr. Paradiso asked what positions he was trying to fill. Chief explained that once Mr. Gillette advances to Deputy Chief, there will be an opening on that shift. There are only three full-time personnel on that shift.

Mr. Paradiso understood that all hires go through the Safety Board except for chief positions. Mr. Janowiak asked if the item for Deputy Chief Gillette was to request a motion. Mr. Paradiso added that He did not know if Chief LaDuke told them who he was appointing. Regardless, it still needs a vote.

Mr. Janowiak entertained a motion to accept the appointment of Michael Gillette as the Deputy Chief effective August 28, 2021. Mr. DeJong made the motion with second made by Mr. Moran. All were in favor by voice vote.

Brief discussion ensued regarding ceremonies and oaths of office. Mr. DeJong suggested that Mr. Gillette and Mr. Andras could have informal oaths in the office and conclude with a ceremonial version at a meeting. Chief LaDuke will inquire further.

B. Police Department
1. Body Cameras
This was discussed during Chief Flores’s Monthly Report.

PUBLIC COMMENT:

Mr. DeJong asked Chief LaDuke about the staffing level update. He understood that Chief LaDuke gave the Town Council a budget plan for promotion. He asked if that also included the backfill. Chief LaDuke stated that he did include it, but the Council chose not to fill the position at this time. It was requested by Chief LaDuke as the 2022 budget is still being worked on by the Town Council.

ADJOURNMENT:

Mr. Janowiak called for a motion to adjourn the meeting. Mr. DeJong made the motion to adjourn with second made by Mr. Moran. All were in favor by voice vote. Meeting adjourned at 6:12 p.m.

Respectfully submitted:

Amy J. Gross, Recording Secretary
St. John Safety Board

Meeting Video Recordings may be found on the Town's YouTube channel

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