Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Police Chief vs Police Director

An ordinance is supposed to have lasting influence, not be a temporary, short term measure. I am asking myself what the impact of this proposed change to Police Director will have not only on this administration but succeeding ones as well. My vote will be based on what is best for Plainfield in the long run.

The advantage of Police Director is in the short run. The disconnect between public safety policy and implementation could be solved this way. The disadvantage is that political influence on the police force, already considerable, will likely increase.

This is a tough decision for me because both sides of the argument are strong. I will be voting against the change to Police Director because the political influence argument is a stronger one in my opinion.

Political influence can be positive or negative. At its best, "political" can mean finding common ground between opposing groups to find a solution that all can live with. Ray Blanco comes to mind when I think of political in this positive way. At its worst, it means finding jobs for friends and supporters even though there are more qualified people available for the job or the commission appointment. This is a real concern for me in Plainfield. We have had a culture of connections over qualifications for a long time. This definitely goes back decades. I think we started to move away from it and I do not want to see us take a step backwards. A Police Chief clearly provides a better shield than a Police Director from elected officials requesting promotions, disciplinary actions and hirings.

A City Council member is from the legislative branch of government. As such, a vote on this ordinance should be about the position and not the people involved. I do not believe my Council colleagues are out to get the Police Chief. If they vote differently from me, I believe they are seeing the issues in a different light. And I expect that, if Plainfield chooses the Police Director position, they will work with me to make sure that political influence in the police department is of the good kind and not the other.


Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for voting the way you did in reference to the position of Chief of Police.
I, too, think that this will be an issue that will come back to haunt us and many will wonder why we didn't see it coming.
Margaret A. Lewis

Anonymous said...

thank you for being a voice of reason in this ridiculous battle to gain more influence. it's sad that such precious time and money is being wasted on this issue that has no real impact to the taxpayers.

Anonymous said...

Hello Cory,
I disagree with you on your vote,however, I greatly respect the reasoned and analytical approach you employed in making your decision. I strongly believe the head of the Police department should be an appointed position. big cities like New York and LA have benefitted tremendously under appointed leadership. I believe the NJ statute which makes it very difficult to replace a chief is a hinderance to replacing someone who is an ineffective chief. The City council retains the power to approve the administration's nominee for the new head of the Police department. I am more concerned about the possibility that the administration would like to increase the number of supervisory resources in the police department. We should make all attempts to control cost.