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City won’t fill chief’s job just yet

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The Watertown police chief’s position will remain unfilled — at least, for now.

City Manager Sharon A. Addison said Wednesday she will hold off making a permanent appointment to fill the $92,672-a-year position. Instead, she will appoint Capt. Gary R. Comins to a provisional appointment, with the city offering a second Civil Service exam as soon as it can.

The local Civil Service Commission accepted the results of the March 23 promotional exam.

Interim Chief Comins and Capt. Cheryl A. Clark were the only two people to take the Civil Service exam. She received an 85, and he scored an 80.

However, it was “a nonbinding exam” because fewer than three people took it, said Elizabeth U. Morris, the Civil Service Commission’s executive secretary. Ms. Addison said she could make either a permanent or a provisional appointment.

“I’m happy with his performance, and he is happy to remain in the position,” Ms. Addison said.

Mr. Comins, who was out of the office Wednesday, and Ms. Clark, who is on vacation, could not be reached for comment. Both had expressed interest in becoming the next police chief.

Ms. Addison has already discussed her plans with him. She said she intends to give the Watertown City Council an update on the situation Monday night.

Mrs. Morris said it was a promotional exam with only four people in the department eligible to take it.

She plans to get the exam process moving once again, she said.

Last July, Mr. Comins was appointed provisionally as police chief and Capt. Clark was promoted from lieutenant.

The moves became necessary when Chief Joseph J. Goss retired in June after a 30-year career.

Chief Comins started his career with the city in June 1985 as a police officer and worked his way up to captain in July 2006. He is a 1974 graduate of Watertown High School and received an associate degree in criminal justice in 1977 from Jefferson Community College.

Capt. Clark began her career as an officer in July 1986. In October 2006, she became the first woman to reach the rank of lieutenant on the force. She graduated from LaFargeville Central School, Jefferson Community College and SUNY Canton.

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