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Thursday, Nov. 12, 2009 09:11 pm

Departing chief’s old job overlaps with new post

Sick and vacation time take Caldwell to 30-year anniversary

Ralph Caldwell begins his new job as director of the Metropolitan Computer-Aided Dispatch agency in Champaign County on Dec. 14, but city officials confirm that he’ll still be employed as chief of the Springfield Police Department through January.

Ernie Slottag, city communications director, says Caldwell will be on the city’s payroll until Jan. 19. Assistant police chief Bobby Williams will act as chief until Caldwell’s official last day.

“That’s standard with departments,” Slottag says. “The fire department is the same way.

“Chief Williams has been in the chief spot several times while Ralph was out on assignment or away at training or at some type of educational conference. He’s been doing that duty when the opportunity arises.”

Caldwell, a 29-year veteran with the police department, has been chief since 2007 and director of the city’s office of homeland security since 2004. He announced Oct. 21 that he would accept the new position with METCAD, an agency that provides 911 emergency dispatching for police, fire and medical services to most of Champaign County. Mayor Tim Davlin nominated Williams to succeed Caldwell as chief of the police department; the city council will vote on the nomination in January.

According to city records obtained by Illinois Times, as of Oct. 27, Caldwell had compiled 2,422.30 hours of sick time and 375 hours of vacation time. Scott Kincaid, president of the Springfield Police Pension Board, says the pension board’s attorney confirmed that Caldwell can use those hours even after he starts another job.

“He has every right to use any time he has on the books, be it comp time, vacation, sick time or personal time,” says Kincaid. “That’s totally legal.”

Caldwell, who joined the Springfield Police Department on Jan. 7, 1980, will reach his 30-year anniversary with the department before he officially retires. According to pension board rules, he’ll receive the maximum 75 percent of his ending salary as his pension.

As of October, Caldwell’s salary was $114,716. He will earn $127,500 with METCAD.

Frank Edwards, Ward 1 alderman and former fire chief, asked the city’s corporation counsel about the issue during Tuesday’s committee of the whole meeting. Aldermen were informed that if the city owes an employee time, officials are obligated to let the employee use that time.

“There’s nothing else we can do,” Edwards says. “It’s nothing different than someone going on vacation and then quitting.”

Edwards says that Caldwell should be treated the same as all other city employees and shouldn’t be discriminated against because he has another job.

But, Edwards admits that he still doesn’t like the situation:

“If everything runs smooth, there’s no problem. The problem is, what if there’s a catastrophe? We have a guy who’s acting as chief and another chief who’s on the payroll.”

Contact Amanda Robert at arobert@illinoistimes.com.
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