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Covington Names Permanent Fire Chief, Agrees to Place Officer at Holmes

This article has been corrected to remove a note about Michael Bartlett (whose name was inaccurately spelled as Barnett), referenced as city solicitor. He is senior assistant city solicitor. Starr Ford was hired to fill a vacancy left by a different former assistant city solicitor. RCN regrets the error.

After five months as interim fire chief, Mark Pierce is now officially the chief of the Covington Fire Department.

“[He] served very well as the interim for five months,” City Manager David Johnston said. “His experience will continue to help the department and city evolve.”

Johnston used Pierce’s promotion to touch on the fire department's need for a management and development effort or program like there is with the police department, saying that he believes that is something that needs to be worked on in the future.

“In talking with Mark, I know he is committed to working with his management team in the fire department to develop this management training program and to seek new ideas of taking our fire department further into the 21st century,” Johnston said.

Mayor Joe Meyer and the commission will have an official swearing-in ceremony for Pierce at next week’s caucus meeting.

Meanwhile, the city commission also voted to approve an agreement with Covington Independent Public Schools authorizing a police officer's assignment to Holmes Middle & High Schools.

The school district has been without a full-time school resource officer since the Kenton County Sheriff's Department pulled out following a lawsuit against a deputy accused of using excessive force, and the district's signing of a consent decree with the U.S. Justice Department.

An officer will be on campus for the last couple of weeks of the current school year and will be there when the 2018-19 school year begins this fall, Police Chief Rob Nader said.
 
"Our goal is to eliminate any concerns or distractions related to safety and security and free teachers and students to do what they're at school to do: teach and learn," Nader said. "This is about Covington's youth and their future. We're committed to partnering with school officials to fulfill this goal."
 
Covington school officials praised the agreement.
 
"School safety has always been a priority of Covington schools," Superintendent Alvin Garrison said. "Having a police presence on campus will help to ensure the security of our students and staff.
 
"We most certainly thank the mayor, commissioners and police for helping to make this happen. We have a great working relationship with the city administration and police, and we know we could not do this without their support."
  
The school district will pay the city $80,000 a year under the agreement, plus the cost of any specialized training.
 
Chief Nader said the Covington officer won't be a traditional school resource officer in that he won't be teaching or enforcing classroom or school discipline but rather be acting as a law enforcement officer with the campus and surrounding area as his "beat".

The city commission also approved the hiring of Starr Ford IV as assistant city solicitor.

Written by Carrie Crotzer with some quotes provided