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Warden rising in the ranks as new Marietta police chief

Sgt. Katie Warden

MARIETTA — Marietta Police Chief Aaron Nedeff was happy to set the record straight when it came to being replaced as head of the police department.

On Wednesday, the scores of the civil service assessment that Nedeff and Sgt. Katie Warden took were announced, with Warden scoring a 96.05 and Nedeff scoring a 90.33.

The person scoring the highest would be named police chief, according to Ohio Revised Code.

Mayor Josh Schlicher said Warden will be the first female chief of police in Marietta’s history, with more than 20 years with the department.

Nedeff said when Warden takes over as chief, he will step back into the captain role he held before being promoted in August 2021.

Mayor Josh Schlicher and Police Chief Aaron Nedeff discuss plans for summer events Thursday at city hall. They talked about the possible changes to the Marietta Police Department once Sgt. Katie Warden takes over as police chief. (Photo by Michele Newbanks)

After Nedeff was named chief, Ryan Huffman took Nedeff’s role as captain. Now that Nedeff will be taking his job back, what will happen with Huffman?

Nedeff said a recommendation was made to create two captain positions. It had been discussed for some time that a lieutenant would be needed, but instead of appointing a lieutenant, they would have Nedeff and Huffman as captains, he said.

Schlicher said having co-captains would fill in the third command spot they had been looking for.

Nedeff said he had spoken with Marietta City Council about having a third command spot as “there’s just so much work that needs done administratively that the chief and captain couldn’t keep up with it.”

He said with three people in command, it will make the department more efficient.

Schlicher said it would take action on council’s part to make the needed changes.

Nedeff replaced former Police Chief Rodney Hupp as interim chief after Hupp was placed on administrative leave in the spring of 2021. When Hupp retired in July, Nedeff was appointed chief.

Nedeff said there was a meeting with the Marietta Civil Service Commission on Aug. 2 and they were asked to do the assessment test needed for a promotion. By law, he could only be in interim status for 120 days. He said they advised they couldn’t give the test before 120 days were up.

Plan B was to have a promotion without the exam.

Schlicher said he had nothing to do with the decision.

“The Civil Service Commission made that decision,” he said.

Nedeff said the commission usually gives 60 days study time for the test. They were already near the end of the 120 days in July, so they allowed the city to promote him on Aug. 2.

The labor union filed a complaint with the state’s Civil Service Commission and they ruled it wasn’t fair, so Marietta’s CSC was given the order to give the test within 30 days. As they only had 30 days, only half of the assessment was completed. Scores were revealed this week.

“The score is what it is. I will fully support the new chief and will do the duties just as I did before. I have six years experience with it,” Nedeff said.

Schlicher said nothing that was done was illegal, as it was authorized by the CSC and they relied on legal counsel at the time, as statutes were already established that permitted it.

“As the administration, we don’t select. That’s not our process. That’s what the Civil Service Commission does,” he said.

He said they got the results from the assessment and the scores are ranked.

“We use that information to promote,” he said, citing Ohio Revised Code 124.44 which states “after the examination has been held and an eligible list established, the commission shall forthwith certify to the appointing officer the name of the person on the list receiving the highest rating. Upon the certification, the appointing officer shall appoint the person so certified within thirty days from the date of the certification.”

“That’s the process we take,” Schlicher said.

He noted there was an appeal process, but it was standard practice.

Nedeff said what originally pushed his promotion through was that he was doing both the chief’s and captain’s jobs after Hupp retired. He said he’s done a lot over the last year and had two goals — get more training and body cams.

The body cams have arrived and will be used by the patrol officers starting this summer.

“If there’s one thing I can say I’m proud of is that I wanted to do two things and I got those accomplished,” Nedeff said. “I really feel like the department, from all the strife that happened the year before, is in a good place now. I think I did a decent job. I was happy to have done it and I’ll be happy to go back to being a captain and continuing to do my job.”

Warden was unavailable for comment.

Michele Newbanks can be reached at mnewbanks@mariettatimes.com.

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