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Public allowed to comment on MGT analysis of police force

The Sunnyside City Council reviewed the MGT report at Monday night's meeting, allowing public comment on the report.

Interim City Manager Frank Sweet introduced the report, stating that Deputy Chief Phil Schenck had reviewed the report for the council already. The floor was then opened for public comments.

First up was former councilman Jim Stevens, who complimented Schenck on declaring war on crime. He then accused the report of being a hit job on police that had contributed to the deficit in the city's budget as noted by the audit report.

"The MGD [sic] was obviously a contorted study to meet an outcome that Mark Gervasi and his supporters wanted to achieve: undermine our police department." said Stevens. "All of this hit on our police department and still cost $50,000 and obviously we're in a hole because of it."

Stevens went on to say that the names of council members who supported the report have been suppressed by the news. He also said that people who criticize police must benefit from crime. He then implied that such people were also neither good Christians nor good Americans because they did not use the word "enemy" to describe gangs.

Former Sunnyside Police Officer John Rodriguez stood to speak and told city council that more work was needed to be done in cleaning house at the police station.

He also took exception to Stevens' statements about people who criticize police, saying he didn't support gangs, but he didn't think Schenck was doing a good job. He said that crime goes in cycles.

"I don't believe that somebody who can't deal with their budget can actually run a police force," said Rodriguez. "Mister Sweet, I think you have some cleaning up to do still. Thank you for what you've done so far."

Discussion returned to council, and Councilman Nick Paulakis said that a number of things mentioned in the report had already been accomplished by Schenck.

"I see good things in the future," said Paulakis. "I appreciate everything, chief."

Councilman Jason Raines noted that Schenck was not involved in the creation of the report at all and had no prior knowledge of the faulty data.

Deputy Mayor Don Vlieger complimented Schenck.

"Yes, things go in cycles," Vlieger said. "They go in cycles because we do good police work. The thing is to break the cycle."

After the council started to move on, two more public comments were made. Janet Hicks, wife of Councilman Craig Hicks, complimented Schenck and complained about Rodriguez's statements. Rodriguez rose to answer, but Sweet cut off discussion, stating that personnel matters were not appropriate for the forum, and invited Rodriguez to talk with him privately.

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