Should the City wait till March to begin the process for hiring a police chief?

Northfield Safety CenterWith the Jan. 4th departure of Northfield Public Safety Director/Police Chief Mark Taylor (see the Dec. 28 rehash of the Dec. 6 story in the Nfld News), the Northfield City Council needs to decide if it should wait till the results of a fire services study by Emergency Service Consulting International (ESCI) are delivered in March. (See the Nov. 30 Nfld News Study will look at consolidating Northfield area fire services; also the June 12 2012 City Council meeting packet for background.)

The Dec. 18 Fbo Daily News editorial urges the City to wait:  Let’s see the results of the fire study before acting on Northfield Public Safety director

Fast forward two years and now the opportunity of further collaboration and sharing of services may be available, depending upon the result of the fire services study. If the study indicates consolidation/collaboration is not only possible, but recommended, maybe a regional fire services director versus a public safety director is the answer. With an open position as yet undefined, that’s a possibility. Perhaps the study will suggest such collaboration would not work. The new city council will then have the opportunity to review the post, especially considering the strides the fire department has made in improving its bookkeeping and operations.

Or is having the best possible police chief more important to the City than whatever secondary fire-related role might be included with the position? Are there downsides to waiting 4 months or longer to having a permanent police chief?

5 comments to Should the City wait till March to begin the process for hiring a police chief?

  • 1
    bonnie pangburn says:

    Not so long ago, we had a police force and a fire/rescue squad that worked well together, respected each other and took pride in their positions and their city. Now, we have a fire department that feels undone at every turn despite all of their willing efforts to right their unintentional turn off course and a police force with a bitter spirit at their new facility being “on the wire”. I think the City council needs to review the director position requirements and ensure that the leader for each department is knowledge specific to their crew and it’s compliance and recognize that both departments, likely, require a full-time candidate able to devote their full attention to that specific role, especially given the possibility of future regional expansions. And, let’s face it folks, while morale might not be the top priority, I’m pretty sure we would all welcome a public safety staff that wasn’t distracted by turmoil, who once again took pride in their positions and hence performed to the peak of their potential. I think it might even be less costly to the City than the pigeon-holing of one dual position and the recruiting process of that one qualified person who has both the necessary police and fire experience as well as being versed on all compliance issues specific to both entities. Then, when one of these leaders moves on, public safety as a whole won’t be left without direction.

    Oh, and that the time for attention to this is…now.

  • 2
    kiffi summa says:

    Great comment, Bonnie … I agree totally, with the possible exception that I think ‘morale’ is a top,very top, priority for these dangerous physical jobs.

    And I have something to add: For months, since the announcement that the fire officers would all have to reapply for the positions they now hold, it has just been another bad dynamic between the city administration and the fire department.
    Now it is announced that the city administrator has reappointed those officers to the positions they currently hold… so what was all the turmoil for?
    .Was it an exercise in ‘who’s in charge’ ?’
    .Was it a ‘power play’ for the sake of demonstrating who’s in charge?
    .Was it a further step in defining the volunteer firemen as city employees rather than paid-on-call volunteers as they are statutorially defined?

    Not a positive management technique, in my POV…

  • 3
    bonnie pangburn says:

    Happy New Year Kiffi. It’s good to see you on the blogging beat. Thanks for your added response. I think you are “right on” regarding your points of turmoil questions. I would even go one step further and wonder whether all of the “hubbub” was strategic? Divert loads of attention to the non-compliance of the fire dept., exaggerate the points out of proportion, publish partial information regarding such with a fervor and maybe slide through a safety center and it’s funding without notice. I’m not typically suspicious by nature and obviously this is too basic, but…

    I once had an employee who felt compelled upon each shift to find error, any error, and rather than right the human wrong she was determined to find who was at fault and point such out with near frenzy. Her assumption was this would cast her in a superior light. However, I much rather employ those who will work as a team to achieve the end result, with excellence.

    I hope our city administrator, along with the incoming mayor and council, will be able to prioritize the issues that require their diligence and know they have a community that supports them and is very much interested in a prosperous future for our town…and yet realize we also have noses for that which doesn’t smell right and the moxy to say so.

    Here’s to an improved 2013. Cheers!!

  • 4
    kiffi summa says:

    One set of appointments that should definitely wait, are those for the EDA.

    First of all, I do not think the EDA was sufficiently re-designed, after the Clough report, and the Council upheaval over the EDA.

    I’d ask this question: What is it that the EDA can very specifically do re: economic development?

    They backed the master plan for the BizPark, and now no one( including the Council who voted to continue with the development of that plan) is happy with the whole concept, since it depends on a lot of $$ being invested for infrastructure.

    Sorry, Councilor Pownell, but the video you honcho’d is full of nice pictures, and little meaning.
    A town in central MN, where according to the video, it never snows???

    The NEC, a ‘creature’ of the EDA could operate under the Community Development dept… and now we get to my ‘quick-fix’.

    ****I would make the Community Development Dept director’s job much, much broader, and have under that position a Planning Specialist, an Economic Development specialist, a Housing/redevelopment specialist , all reporting to the CD Director, who then reports to the City Administrator.**** (details to be worked out…)

    The EDA will never have the staff to go out and search and court businesses that they would like to recruit to town; the best they can do is support a great quality of life for businesses to settle here… and that’s community development.

    As presently constituted, the EDA is a waste of time and money, IMO, and the taxing authority dollars end up mostly paying for staff time… and that staff has not been fully committed to answering to the full EDA Board in the past.

    ****So hold off on those new appointments, Mayor Graham, and at least discuss if a more realistically productive model can be constructed!

  • 5
    kiffi summa says:

    Bonnie… it seems from your comments that you might know some of the firemen personally, and if so, maybe you can answer a question: I have heard that even though some of the highest positions in the fire ranks were re-appointed to their positions, after having to reapply, that those appointments which were supposed to be for three years were in some cases made for only one year, and that “on probation “…

    ???

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