published: Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Lister named Director of Public Safety
By CHRISTOPHER TUFFLEY
AVON PARK -- City council promoted Jason Lister to the position of Director of Public Safety at its regular meeting Monday night.
His selection was made at the request of City Manager Julian Deleon, and passed the council by a 3-1 vote, with council member Paul Miller voting against. Council member Terry Heston was out of town.
"By city charter I can make my own choice. I am allowed to pick my own team," Deleon said. "I urge you to please approve his contract."
While everyone who addressed the issue praised Lister as a police officer and leader, several said placing someone with a police background in the job was not the best choice.
George Hall said the city's needs have changed since the Highlands County Sheriff's Office took over law enforcement for the city. "Now we have more firefighters than police officers," he said. "We should have a workshop and look at what we want in a safety director. This is nothing against Lister; he is a good officer, but I just think you should spend more time thinking about it."
Former mayor Tom Macklin echoed Hall's statement. "A background in fire services is important," he said. He added that the safety director's role has become smaller because there are fewer employees to supervise.
He asked if Lister would have to seek fire fighting training.
Deleon said Lister and Sgt.Brian Robinson (the only two left in the Avon Park Police Department) had two years to become EMT and fire fighter certified. They were already enrolled in an EMT course, Deleon said.
Listed in the job description, the requirement for certifications will be added to the employment contracts.
Paul Shannon, representing the firefighter's union, read a prepared statement.
"We will respect Mr. Deleon's decision for the job," Shannon said, adding in about a year there should be a discussion about creating an operations manager position for the fire department. "Someone who would be there Monday through Friday," Shannon said, to provide continuity, organization and communication. The department has been without official leadership for four years.
Lister's safety director salary is $65,000 base pay, with a benefits package. The contract is for three years.
Lister and Robinson, a community policing officer, are stationed at the Fixed Base Operations Center at the airport.
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