Englewood Manager Sorry for Misstep on Police Changes

13 November 2010 15 views No Comment

From: The Record, November 11, 2010 by Giovanna Fabiano, Staff Writer

ENGLEWOOD — The city manager publicly apologized to the mayor and City Council after complaints that officials were not informed of personnel matters, including the promotions of police officers last week.

Starting this week, council members will receive a biweekly summary of all personnel actions in the city, including a list of employees who were hired and fired or those who received bonuses or disciplinary action, City Manager Dan Fitzpatrick said.

Fitzpatrick’s apology came Tuesday during a public meeting in response to a comment from Councilwoman Lynne Algrant, who said she “did not want to hear about these types of things from a third party.”

He acknowledged he did not make the mayor and full council aware that six officers were promoted.

“I followed every proper protocol, but times have changed, and I didn’t recognize the extent they had changed, in regards to keeping everyone informed,” Fitzpatrick said.

The promotions bumped a lieutenant to captain, two sergeants to lieutenants and three officers to sergeants. They were included in the municipal budget and complied with a 2009 ordinance that details the maximum number of staff allowed in the department, Police Chief Arthur O’Keefe said, adding that council approval was not necessary.

They were approved by Fitzpatrick and Council President Scott Reddin last Thursday.

But Mayor Frank Huttle took issue with the decision, saying he vetoed a July ordinance that called for restructuring the Police Department because the council was not provided with any information about the impact on public safety and the budget. He also accused council members of either meeting privately to discuss the ordinance or “voting on it blindly.”

In a heated public statement in which he implied that some council members “make decisions in a vacuum,” Huttle said he has been “fighting for the police” for years, but noted that his issue was with the way decisions are made in the city.

“This is about corporate governance … you can’t simply vote on something without looking at the information,” Huttle said.

“Anytime the council wants to vote on something without a shred of documentation, it’s wrong.”

Reddin responded to Huttle in a prepared statement: “I’m dismayed that you made an accusation that council members are meeting privately.”

“I have no tolerance for people who don’t care what they say or who they hurt,” Reddin said.

Dozens of residents crowded into the meeting to speak out against the promotions, saying taxpayers could not withstand any more increases.

Howard Shafer, a city resident, said Fitzpatrick should have “held the line” on raises, because the police contract is set to expire.

“You’re going to go into negotiations, and is it safe to say these officers are going to ask for another raise?” Shafer said.

Fitzpatrick responded, “You can absolutely count on it,” adding, “We could be in arbitration for 24 months and we absolutely needed them.”

“My experience has taught me it’s generally not a good idea to give young men and women a badge and a gun and send them out without supervision,” Fitzpatrick said.

But Councilman Jack Drakeford rejected Fitzpatrick’s argument.

“If you did without it for six months, you don’t need it,” he said.

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