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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Sep. 27, 2016 10 months ago

Second inspector general candidate will let city know today if he accepts job; first couldn't meet timeline

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by: David Chapman

The city’s Office of Inspector General could have a new leader by the end of the day, but it won’t be the top choice a selection committee picked last week.

Instead, it could be Scott Ando, former head of the Independent Police Review Authority in Chicago. Ando has close to 38 years’ experience in management, law enforcement and investigations and was ranked second by the Inspector General Selection and Retention Committee after a series of interviews Sept. 19.

He placed just behind James Hoffman, a Navy general counsel who didn’t have much experience for the role but impressed committee members with his communication skills.

Hoffman was offered the job but declined because he was unable to separate from the Navy in time to meet a January start date.

Ando’s offer is for $150,000, which will be bumped to $160,000 after he receives inspector general training.

He said Monday evening he was still contemplating whether to take the position and would notify the city today of his decision.

Ando said he likes the mission of the office and its impact to ensure government operates in a “most respectful and appropriate way.”

But he also is concerned about the relatively small size of the office and its budget.

The office has seven full-time employees and a budget approaching $1 million after more than $100,000 was brought in from the city’s independent authorities to support the office.

While running the Independent Police Review Authority, Ando had more than 100 employees and a budget of almost $8.3 million. That organization investigated all officer-involved shootings and alleged misconduct investigations.

When he started, there were roughly 6,000 complaints a year, 1,500 of which were kept in-house and divvied up among investigators, he told the committee. The average caseload was about 35 per person, which he called “absolutely unmanageable.”

Ando was at the authority from October 2011 to December 2015, leading the organization starting in January 2013.

He told the committee he was able to improve morale and drastically cut the backload of cases to seven to eight cases per investigator. Additionally, cases weren’t backed up three or four years. When he left, it was just under 18 months.

Ando’s departure from the office wasn’t exactly traditional. He resigned in December shortly after the U.S. Department of Justice announced an investigation into practices of the Chicago Police Department.

He brought up his departure during his interview and said Monday he did so to be forthright.

City Council Vice President John Crescimbeni, vice chair of the committee, said Monday what he found in his online research about Ando’s resignation often had different perspectives. The conflicting accounts led him to not put a lot of credence to the various reports.

“I felt like it was Chicago politics as usual more than anything else,” said Crescimbeni.

He ranked Ando just behind Hoffman, whom he said he gave an extra point to because he is a veteran. Crescimbeni said he would have been happy with either candidate taking the job and that Ando was articulate and came with more experience.

Committee member Marc Hassan ranked Ando as his top choice following the interviews. He said Monday he thought Ando would be able to communicate the office’s role and findings in a relatable way to the community and came well-prepared for the interview.

Ando researched the office and relayed information as such during his interviews. He also was the only candidate to ask the committee questions.

As for Ando’s departure in Chicago, Hassan said he thought the entire committee knew about it. Additionally, the city’s human resources department researched and contacted references for Ando and all the candidates before putting them forth.

While the committee didn’t inquire about his past, Hassan said Ando brought the topic up himself.

“Mr. Ando did himself address the elephant in the room,” said Hassan.

If Ando accepts the offer, his appointment would be subject to council approval.

If he doesn’t, the office would still be in search of its next inspector general — a situation that could be resolved a couple of ways.

The group could move to the next highest-ranked candidate, as Hassan suggested.

Or it could put out another call for candidates, as Crescimbeni suggested.

Crescimbeni said he would be disappointed because much time already has been invested in the search, but he wants the right person in place.

[email protected]

@writerchapman

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