Future Uncertain for Englewood Plan to Reorganize Police Department

3 October 2010 53 views No Comment

From: The Record, August 9, 2010

ENGLEWOOD — A plan to restructure the police ranks to include more high-level supervisors and reduce the number of patrol officers is in limbo, after the city council declined to vote to override the mayor’s veto.

Mayor Frank Huttle vetoed an ordinance adopted by the council last month, which revises the organizational chart of the department, allowing for two additional lieutenants, two fewer sergeants and one fewer captain. The chart also reduces the maximum number of rank-and-file police officers from 64 to 60. Huttle claimed he used his veto power because he and the council were not provided with enough information to justify the plan, which would include eight promotions and cost the city an additional $7,000 the first year and $27,000 the next.

Council members were set to vote on a resolution to override the veto at a public meeting Tuesday night, but after a lengthy discussion, which at times turned contentious, they chose not to act on the measure — essentially, leaving it in limbo.

“At this point, the ordinance doesn’t stand, so Chief O’Keefe and I will sit down and evaluate what happens next,” Deputy Chief Lawrence Suffern said Wednesday.

“The council said they wanted additional information before they go forward, so they may require us to sit down and go over things with them, or they might decide not to do it at all in these economic times,” Suffern said.

In the meantime, the ranks will remain the same, Suffern said.

Police Chief Arthur O’Keefe said the reorganization allows for more supervision and accountability, but Huttle said the council should have seen a comprehensive plan analyzing the impact a smaller force would have on public safety and overtime.

Average overtime in 2009 in Englewood exceeded $20,000 per officer, a number city officials vowed to reduce in 2010.

Huttle rebuked the council for not taking action, suggesting the resolution to override the veto would not have carried Tuesday night had there been a vote.

“It’s either an up or down vote,” Huttle said. “The intent of a veto is not to put it on another path to adoption.”

“This is what’s wrong with our city government — we have discussions and then it goes into a black hole, and it may resurrect in the future and it may not,” Huttle added Wednesday.

Councilman Ken Rosenzweig, who suggested holding off on the resolution until the council had more information, said city officials have until the end of the year to vote to override the veto.

“We’re not working under a time limit here, and although I was satisfied with the initial information given to us by the police chief and assistant city manager and don’t want to micromanage…I don’t have a problem with getting the council more information,” Rosenzweig said.

“The mayor can veto an ordinance within 10 days of its adoption under the city charter, but he can’t tell us when we have to take action,” he said.

Under the vetoed ordinance, the total number of superior officers would remain the same, but the layout would change. No layoffs were proposed, and any reductions are the result of attrition, according to Assistant City Manager Bob Gorman.

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