Community Interests

Public Safety: Director or Police Chief?

City Manager, Michael Dornan, is to give an overall “30,000-foot review” of the operations of the Police Department and the Fire Department according to the comments made at the council’s budget meeting of April 30, 2009.

No council motion giving specific direction to what Mr. Dornan is to achieve in his 30,000-foot review was made; therefore, it is difficult to anticipate the results of the council’s comments. The primary focus is to review the Police Department’s internal structure and insert a “command position” within the structure.

Presently, the department has a “flat” organization structure and from the inception of the Public Safety Director’s position, the internal operating structural gap obviously increased.

Recently the council appointed the Director of Public Safety.

The search process was completed with “retiring” Mr. Goodlein appointed to the position at the recommendation of Mr. Dornal, the search committee, and received final approval by City Council.

There were considerable questions and discussions about the search process and the appointment of Mr. Goodlein.

However, the dominant question for consideration (and never asked) should have been not only the internal structure of the Police Department, but also, the review and supporting justification for a Director’s position.

What can a Director of Public Safety accomplish that a Police Chief could not accomplish? Would it have been be easier to hire a Police Chief rather than a Director”?

Communications and training…how difficult is it for a Police Chief to discuss training and coordination of activities with the Fire Chief and the Administration?

And cross training…cross training incorrectly implies that Fire Fighters are trained as Police Officers, and Police Officers are trained as Fire Fighters. Common sense tells us that this is not true. Cross training for emergency specific responses is certainly advisable and justifiable between both departments.

Mr. Dornan’s 30,000-foot review of the Police Department and the Fire Department, including the establishment of the “command” position, should be of interest to the community.

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