Back in August, Paul Mazzuca became the newest in a line of officials who either resigned or were removed from their position as Aragon Police Chief, but more than a month later, personnel issues between the parties persist.
Mazucca appeared before the Aragon Council during their September meeting to drop off documents citing various issues he had with Mayor Garry Baldwin during his service – and to ask about the 72 hours of vacation pay he never received.
While there was some ambiguity surrounding his parting last month, both his comments from the meeting and the papers he brought with him shed some light on the situation.
Mazzuca told the council he was both forced to resign and was never given the opportunity to turn in a two-week notice.
“First off, I would like to give the council members some stuff that I was never able to give the council members while I was chief here,” Mazzuca said while handing out a response to his performance evaluation and letters of dissent regarding the officer schedule Baldwin created.
“And second off, I would like to know — since I was forced to resign — when am I going to get paid for my 72 hours of vacation time?” Mazzuca added.
Whether or not an employee is entitled to unused vacation pay can vary depending on a number of factors, but Baldwin was unable to answer many questions.
He mentioned the city deals with issues like these separately and that Mazucca could file a complaint as the first step towards getting any compensation he’s owed.
Personnel issues are typically discussed in private executive sessions, but it was when Baldwin insisted that he was following the city’s personnel policy by not letting him submit a two-week notice that Mazzuca began to take issue with the mayor’s statements.
“I want to know right now,” Mazzuca said. “The city clerk told me that I had to give a two-week notice. I was never allowed to give a two-week notice, so I want to know why.”
“I’m going by the personnel policy,” Baldwin responded.
“Personnel policy? You didn’t give me any chance to give a two-week notice, so you’re in violation of your personnel policy,” Mazucca shot back. “I still want to know where my money is – it’s 72 hours of vacation time.”
Baldwin, still declining to discuss personnel issues during the meeting, asked the former chief if he wanted to discuss any other items before Mazucca left.
Mazzuca, who served from November 2018 until this previous August, said in a copy of his resignation letter provided to the Standard Journal that ...
He also provided copies of an official letter dated July 12, 2019, where he provided reasons why he wanted to keep officers in his small department working together for safety reasons, rather than have them working by themselves in shorter shifts to provide full time police protection to the city.
Mazzuca argued in the letter he wasn’t opposed to 12 hour shifts for his officers, but that he was concerned about having only a single officer on per shift that would further tax the Polk County Police Department, who remain understaffed compared to the total population of the county.
“They are having to cover roughly 350 square miles with only 3 to 5 people per shift,” Mazzuca wrote in the July 12 letter. “Which means if all their on-duty units are tied up on a call on the west side of the county, it will take a minimum of 25 minutes to get to our city to back up our officer.”
He reminded the mayor and council in the letter that he provided several options to Baldwin and that “with all of them he stated ‘I need to spread you guys out. We cannot double up on shifts.’ It is not that we are “doubling up shifts” but providing officer backup for our officers on duty. Mayor Baldwin had his mind made up about the schedule and was not going to change it.”
Additionally, a copy of his final employee evaluation was also handed over during the meeting to the Standard Journal. Originally dated on June 30 and giving Mazzuca a 3.2 out of a rating of 5 overall when all considered together, Baldwin provided an attachment of several items he had issues with in the former chief’s performance that was dated July 12, the same date Mazzuca provided the Mayor and Council with a letter over his concerns with 12-hour single officer shifts.
Baldwin’s issues included a “lack of productivity” for not spending as much time working on traffic enforcement and utilizing the city’s tag readers to catch speeders and other violating traffic laws. He also took issue with decision-making and time management skills, his conduct and demeanor in using inappropriate language with his peers, and for discussing “personnel-related problems of your staff in front of other employees and council members when it should be kept private.”
Mazzuca followed up with a rebuttal letter of some of what Baldwin’s concerns were in the attached review with his own, and argued that “Since I have come to office, I have turned this department around and have put it on the right track and doing what is expected of the police department.”
Mazzuca has since been hired on at the Rockmart Police Department, where he was sworn in for duty officially in recent days.