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Attempt to effectively micromanage the police department fails at commission meeting with 4-2 vote


Featured A few months ago, the Douglas City Commission appointed assistant police chief Brannen Pruette (above) as interim police chief. The commission is preparing to hire a permanent chief. Monday night, the commission voted down several significant changes to the chief's job description and qualifications. DouglasNow.com file photo A few months ago, the Douglas City Commission appointed assistant police chief Brannen Pruette (above) as interim police chief. The commission is preparing to hire a permanent chief. Monday night, the commission voted down several significant changes to the chief's job description and qualifications.

What appears to be an attempt by more than one unnamed city commissioner to micromanage the Douglas Police Department failed Monday night when the commission voted down several proposed changes to the chief of police’s job description and qualifications.

 

After police chief Gary Casteloes retired earlier this year, the commission appointed deputy chief Brannen Pruette as interim police chief. The city commission is preparing to hire a permanent police chief and in so doing has prepared a job description outlining the requirements and duties of the position. At Monday night’s meeting, the commission discussed a few proposed changes to the job description.

 

In the meeting packet under Tab K in an introduction prepared by city manager Charlie Davis was the following statement: “Filling the police chief position is always highly political so I want a mayor and commission approved job description. Prior to this meeting, I have emailed and placed in your mail boxes the job description and other information. Through 8/20/2018, I had received changes from two commissioners and no changes from four commissioners. See attached job description and purposed changes.” Davis did not state which two commissioners sent in changes.

 

One change Davis listed fell under Major Duties. The original statement read: “Consults with the City Manager to develop, implement, and oversee Police Department operations; formulates and prescribes methods and procedures to be followed by department employees.” The proposed changes would state “Consults with the City Manager, Mayor, and Commission to develop, implement, and oversee Police Department operations . . . “ 

 

Another proposed change would alter the baccalaureate degree in law enforcement (master’s degree preferred), police science, criminal justice, public administration or related field requirement to “at least 15 years law enforcement experience with 5+ years in a supervisory role and complete a baccalaureate degree in a reasonable period.” This change effectively reduces the qualifications of the job to a level below what the previous chief had and current interim chief has.  There was also another proposed change related to the reducing the types of certifications a candidate needed to possess in order to qualify for the job.

 

As the commission was preparing to vote, Commissioner Olivia Pearson asked if the changes were going through or not. Mayor Tony Paulk replied that the job description would stay the same. “Excuse me?” asked Pearson. Mayor Paulk explained that the commission was about to vote but during the work session the consensus among commissioners was to leave the job description the same. When the mayor called for a vote, Commissioners Mike Gowen, Edwin Taylor, Bob Moore, and Cindy McNeill voted to leave the job description as is. Commissioners Pearson and Kentaiwon Durham voted against doing so.

 

The city will presumably proceed with hiring a new police chief using the original job description to find a qualified candidate.

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