Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Police Director or Chief?

In his report Monday as chairman of the Administration & Finance Committee, Councilman Adrian Mapp said the committee recommends not funding the position of police director and wants discussion of "where the city wants to go" regarding a police director versus a police chief.

Police Chief Edward Santiago was laid off in January 2008 and given the choice of resigning or taking a demotion to captain. The move brought an outpouring of support for Santiago as reported here, but he stepped down and remains a captain today.

In March 2008, the City Council launched legislation to abolish the title of police chief in favor of a police director. Martin Hellwig, already the director of Public Affairs & Safety over the police and fire chiefs, was later named acting police director but drew only a department head salary. No salary band for police director was enacted until nearly two years later (see here).

Hellwig was drawing a pension from a previous law enforcement post and initially took only a $90,000 salary as department head. The salary band for police director is from $97,163 to $131,310. (Plaintalker will file an OPRA request to verify the police director's actual salary in 2011.)

In 2010, Plaintalker reported on salary ranges that could hinder budget savings. Public safety salary and wages have generally taken up the largest part of the city budget and police and fire unions have resisted calls for concessions. Whether the city has a chief or director at the top of law enforcement, that individual must by law make 5 percent more than the next-in-command.

The current mix of unsettled contracts, a cabinet in flux, tough economic times and conversion to a calendar budget year will require close watching in coming weeks. Past decisions have had an ad-hoc quality that has contributed to a sense of disarray in City Hall. Any changes now must be well-considered if they are not to just add to the confusion.


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