Sandusky, Ohio, is a community of approximately 25,000 located on the shores of Lake Erie. The city began using Lexipol’s Local Government policies in 2020.
As John Orzech prepared to take on the role of assistant city manager with Sandusky, Ohio, he knew he faced a big challenge. “One of the responsibilities the city manager tasked me with was helping out the Human Resources department,” Orzech says. “I knew the city’s policies and procedures were in bad shape. We had binders and folders of policies dating back to the 1980s and ’90s from a bunch of different city managers. Our travel policy had a 1970s station wagon on the front cover.”
In addition, there was no central place to access policies and as a result, a lot of new employees weren’t aware of policies. “People didn’t know where to get information about vacation, personal use of their work computers, etc.,” Orzech says. “They relied on word of mouth to learn”—which created the potential for inconsistencies and misconceptions.
As the former chief of the Sandusky Police Department, Orzech had faced some of the same issues with outdated policies and had successfully implemented Lexipol’s Law Enforcement Policies and Training solution in the department. “The Lexipol policy and procedure for law enforcement is second to none. So when I received an email saying Lexipol was now offering Local Government Administration policies, I knew it would be instrumental in moving the city forward,” he says.
Orzech used Lexipol’s Implementation Services to keep the policy implementation project running smoothly. “I knew going in that we needed a small team of people to make decisions, and with the help of our Implementation Services representative, the process was pretty simple,” he says. Orzech brought together the directors of the city’s Human Resources, Finance and Legal divisions, as well as a lieutenant from the Police Department who had familiarity with the process of implementing Lexipol policies.
“We drove the process, but our Implementation Services representative was essential to keeping us on task and holding us accountable,” Orzech says. “He guided us through each section of the policy, helped us do what we needed to do and move on. I knew from working on the police department implementation that Lexipol has the process down and if we let Lexipol lead, it goes well. The Implementation Services folks are there to answer specific questions about why the policies are in place and to help us think outside the box. We wanted to get away from the ‘we have always done it this way’ mentality.”
In fact, thinking differently about policy was one of Orzech’s goals in the implementation of new policies. “Some of our longer-term employees were accustomed to policies getting issued because someone did something wrong,” he says. This led to a lack of trust between employees and administration about policies and the intent of issuing them.” With Lexipol, all city employees are provided access to the policies, creating transparency and helping to build shared understanding about why the policies exist. “Lexipol has helped us break down barriers around policy—everyone has access, everyone knows what the expectation is,” Orzech says.
In addition to bringing Sandusky’s policies up to date, working with Lexipol has helped enhance equity in city administration decisions. “There’s so much value of having policies that all the employees are familiar with,” Orzech says. “Every year, there was a request to use our city parks to put up holiday displays—what’s OK and what’s not—and every year we had to have a conversation about it and make a new decision—now there is a policy about it, and we just refer to the policy.”
Ultimately, Orzech sees the implementation of Lexipol’s Local Government Administration policies as critical to the city’s future development. “As we emerge from COVID, we’re starting to hire now, and that onboarding process starts with Lexipol,” Orzech says. “It’s critically important our new employees know what the policies are and where to find them. It sets a foundation for us to build on. I’m a big believer in Lexipol’s program.”