Monday, March 30, 2009

TPD and the Great Chief Search...

Ok, this is a story that kinda came and went, but I did some research this past weekend and learned a few things...

This story appeared in the March 11th Tucson Citizen. I'll include the pertinent details:

Seven hours of closed City Council talks Tuesday quashed a national selection effort for the city's next police chief.

The pool had been narrowed to four over several days of interviews and public panel discussions.

The next search will be limited to officers from within the Tucson Police Department, City Manager Mike Hein said in a news release Wednesday evening.

The release was sent at 4:54 p.m. and contained no reason for the change in the recruitment process.

Neither Hein nor former police chief and current Assistant City Manager Richard Miranda was available for comment during the day or after the release was sent.

Tucson Director of Human Resources Cindy Bezaury confirmed the halt Wednesday but denied it was because there were discrepancies in advertised criteria for the position, which two sources told the Citizen was the reason the selection was called off.

The job opening was posted on the city's Web site and on several police-affiliated Web sites, but the minimum criteria differed and could have led to a legal challenge after a chief was selected, the Citizen was told by two independent sources.

One of the alleged discrepancies involved whether a bachelor's degree was required. One candidate, TPD Capt. Brett Klein, expects to earn his degree this summer, according to his résumé.

TPD's Klein and Assistant Chief John Leavitt, two of the four finalists, are welcome to reapply, she said. Hein had said he hoped to have a candidate in place by May, when current Chief Kermit Miller retires.

None of the candidates - Klein, Leavitt, former North Las Vegas Police Chief Mark Paresi and Phoenix police assistant chief Blake McClelland - would comment on the process Wednesday, but Paresi said he was "notified."

My source within TPD sheds a little more light onto this story. What he has said is that there is a power struggle with Assistant City Manager Miranda, who would like to keep direct control over the Police Dept. That being said, both outside candidates during interviews were visibly at odds with Miranda's previous policies and decisions, and would be on the outside with Miranda - possibly making Miranda's control over TPD limited to the duties available to the Assistant City Manager, and no more. How to fix that? Residency requirement, which was left off on one of the job postings.

Leavitt apparently has always agreed with Miranda, and while having minimal support from the officers (outside of them doing their duty), he would have been favorable to Miranda's continued direct influence over TPD policy and structure.

Klein, who like Leavitt, comes from within TPD, would come into the job with a desire to change things up, and minimize Miranda's continued influence. However, Klein does not have a BS, yet, and has a lower rank than Leavitt, not necessarily enough to consider him a 'lesser' candidate. On one of the job postings, it states "BS or equivalent"...equivalent by TPD policy is time of service, allowing Klein to meet the requirements set forth on one, but not all, of the job postings.

Starting to see the picture? Miranda, through Hein, sees only one opportunity to keep control over TPD. If someone else comes in, changes policy, and makes the force better, more effective, and most cost-efficient, how is his tenure as chief going to look? So right then and there, both outsiders must be taken off the running.

Now we are down to two men, Klein and Leavitt. Hire Klein, and possibly lose control, because the officers will rally behind him, or hire Leavitt, and open the force up to a lawsuit - due to the discrepancies of the job-opening postings. Not to mention the two outside candidates who may also sue due to the discrepancies in residency requirement.

Ultimately, the only choice that could be made, was:

Shut down the process.

Start over - with one posting so that there is no possibility of any errors causing a lawsuit, and find as many reasons to limit the available candidate pool to those that would be favorable to Miranda. Note, while the Chief of Police (you can see the current job posting here) reports to the Asst. City Manager's office, it is the Chief's job to organize and direct all functions, not the Asst. City Manager.

Miranda, it is time to let it go. You took the step up the ladder, do the job you are hired to do. If you want to be Chief of Police, apply for the job. Until then, be the best Assistant City Manager you can be, and let the Police run the Police Department...

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