Thursday, September 13, 2007

Chief Concerns

A recent comment on an earlier post brought up some questions that need answered about an elected vs. appointed chief.

Question 1: Who would appoint the police chief if we do appoint the chief?
  • That is spelled out in LG 143.013. The City Manager (CEO) would appoint the chief with confirmation by the City Council (governing body).

Question 2: What are the qualifications for an appointed or elected chief?
  • Appointed chiefs requirements from the above reference are "A person appointed as head of a police department must be eligible for certification by the Commission on Law Enforcement Officer standards and Education at the intermediate level or its equivalent as determined by that commission and must have served as a bona fide law enforcement officer for at least five years." The city manager, with input from the council and public could add other requirements. These requirements don't apply to an elected chief.
  • The qualifications for the elected chief start with section 61 of the City charter that says "The Chief of Police shall have been a resident of the City of San Angelo for a period of at least two years immediately prior to his election and shall possess the qualifications of electors in said city." The state adds some requirements in Occupation Code 1702.302. It says in part "in an elective office must obtain a license from the commission not later than the second anniversary of the date the officer takes office." It also states that if the elected officer (police chief in this case) fails to obtain or maintain the license within the 2 years he can be removed from office.
Question 3: Who has oversight of an appointed or elected chief?
  • In the case of an appointed chief, he would serve at the will of the City Manager, who would be also be his direct supervisor. As an appointed department head he would also be subject to investigation and inquiry by city council.
  • An elected chief has no real supervisor within the city government. The council can "adjust" the chiefs pay, and the council does control the police budget, but they have no real authority to remove or discipline the police chief. The voters can remove an appointed chief at the next regular election. In theory, the voters could petition for a recall election, but that requires a large number of signatures on petitions, and a full blown election with all the time and expense involved in that process. The council can't call a recall election. That has to start with a citizens petition with sufficient signatures.
  • Either chief can be removed for conviction of a felony or a crime of moral turpitude. Neither chief is subject to review or oversight by the civil service commission.
Hope that answers some of the basic questions on the mechanics of appointed and elected chiefs.

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