Liberty Township trustees will likely consider the fate of township Fire Chief Tim Jensen when they meet Monday.
Meanwhile, the office of Jensen’s attorney, Paul Bittener, told The Gazette on Thursday that he is preparing a response to a report — released to the public Wednesday — that details various job-performance shortcomings by Jensen. Trustees hired a Cincinnati attorney to investigate Jensen’s performance as chief and to write the report.
“A comprehensive response will be available by close of business tomorrow (Friday),” Bittener’s secretary told The Gazette.
Trustee Shyra Eichhorn on Thursday said she had no comment than “we’ve received the report.”
The investigation concluded that without “major” changes, Jensen is not fit to remain in command of the fire department.
Trustees will apparently discuss the next steps to be taken during their meeting Monday. The meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. at the township hall, 7761 Liberty Road, Powell.
Earlier this week, trustees received the investigatory report by Douglas E. Duckett, an attorney and investigator from Cincinnati. It was made public on Wednesday.
Bittener said he had received the 33-page single-spaced report. “It’s not like buzzing through a paperback book,” he said about reviewing it.
Jensen has been on administrative leave since March 1. Trustees authorized spending $7,500 for the investigation in March. Last week, trustees tabled discussion on spending another $7,500 on the investigation by Duckett.
In the report, Duckett wrote, “Whether he is capable of making the needed changes, and whether the board of trustees can ever have trust and confidence in his leadership in this critical role, are questions that both he and the board of trustees must ponder and decide.”
However, Duckett acknowledged in the report that the issue is not about Jensen’s character, good intentions or passion for fire department service.
Duckett wrote that witnesses describe the Liberty Township Fire Department under Jensen as “a place where there is little or no real accountability for performance failings.”
Duckett wrote that Jensen failed to discipline employees on several occasions and, in one instance, Jensen gave the impression that he would make the reprimands “go away” for an employee who refused to let a woman having a mental health issue travel to the emergency room in a medic vehicle.
In the conclusion of Duckett’s report, he emphasized Jensen’s personal character. “As noted at the outset, the issue before the board of trustees has never been about the character or good intentions of Tim Jensen. None of that is in question. What is in question is his diligence, leadership and effectiveness in his role as fire chief for Liberty Township. In several distinct and important aspects outlined in this report, his performance has fallen short of what the trustees — and people of Liberty Township — have the right to expect.”
Jensen has been the township’s fire chief since June 2009 and currently draws an annual salary of $91,000. In his time as fire chief, he has never been reprimanded, Jensen told The Gazette earlier. “There have been no instances and no references,” he has said.
Jensen could not be reached for comment Thursday.
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.