Englewood Promotes Six Officers

13 November 2010 15 views No Comment

From: The Record, November 9, 2010 by Giovanna Fabiano, Staff Writer

ENGLEWOOD — Six police officers have been promoted less than three months after the mayor vetoed a plan that would restructure the ranks of the department and allow for more high-level supervisors.

Chief Arthur O’Keefe said the promotions “were budgeted for” and fill several vacant supervisory positions.

The promotions — which bump a lieutenant to captain, two sergeants to lieutenants and three officers to sergeants — comply with a 2009 ordinance that details the maximum number of staff allowed in the police department.

The promotions, requested in an Oct. 15 letter from O’Keefe to City Manager Dan Fitzpatrick, were made Thursday.

“This is designed to ensure the chain of command and provide clear authority, responsibility, and oversight,” O’Keefe wrote in an e-mail Monday.

But Mayor Frank Huttle took issue with the promotions, saying they should have been brought to the attention of the mayor and the full council for a vote.

Huttle said Monday that he should have been informed of the decision to fill the positions, given that the city is in a “financial crisis” and that his budget and finance commission has been pouring through budget documents.

“Promotions were made, they’ve known since October 15, and the mayor has not received any information … it’s inexcusable,” Huttle said.

“We’re sitting at a time when there’s a separate finance and budget commission that was formed, volunteers working around the clock and going through budget documents, and here was a decision that was made privately,” he said.

In August, Huttle vetoed an ordinance adopted by the council, which would have increased the number of lieutenants while decreasing the maximum number of sergeants and captains. It also would have reduced the maximum number of rank-and-file police officers from 64 to 60.

Huttle said he supports the police, but he vetoed the ordinance because elected officials were not provided with enough information about the impact the restructuring would have on public safety as well as the budget. He added that after the veto, he requested documents from the city manager on the budgetary impacts of a restructuring, but was told that information would be discussed in upcoming budget hearings.

Fitzpatrick could not be reached for comment Monday.

“I vetoed the ordinance because [Council President] Scott Reddin and some members of the council either met privately or they voted on it blindly in 17 seconds,” Huttle said.

But Reddin rebutted those allegations Monday, saying, “Any suggestion that myself and other members of the council has met behind closed doors is absolutely untrue.”

“I’ve never done that, I never will, and to make those allegations is improper,” Reddin said, adding that he trusted O’Keefe to make the necessary promotions.

“I’m very cognizant of money, but we need the proper structure for a police department and it is up to the chief to make the determination,” Reddin said, adding that under his tenure as council president, he helped save nearly $1 million in police costs, by decreasing overtime and eliminating positions.

Assistant City Manager Bob Gorman and O’Keefe said the promotions were made last week in compliance with the previous ordinance, thereby council approval was not necessary.

Under the city charter, the police chief makes recommendations to the city manager, and the city manager approves those recommendations and makes the appointments, Gorman said.

“The council is not involved as long as it’s within the numbers of the ordinance,” Gorman said Monday.

“We’re under the maximum number of sergeants by one and we’re running short as a result of retirements this year in the upper level ranks … we ended up being short on supervision,” Gorman said.

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