Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Is Ballard Still Refusing To Accept Responsibility For The Police Department?

One of Mayor Greg Ballard's first priorities when he took office in January, 2008 was to wrestle control of IMPD from then-Sheriff Frank Anderson. He felt strongly that the mayor should be the elected official responsible for the police department, and he was highly critical of Bart Peterson during his campaign for mayor for signing into law an ordinance that handed control of the newly-merged police department to the sheriff. No sooner had he won the right from the City-County Council to control IMPD than it became apparent that Ballard had no desire to be accountable for the actions of the police department and was running as fast and far from its day-to-day operations as possible.

Ballard chose a former prosecutor, Scott Newman, to serve as his first public safety director and elevated the position from that of a mere policy-maker to a decision-maker. When Newman departed the position abruptly, he hired a megalomaniac with a Ph.D from New York with little policing experience, who got a much larger staff and even more control over the police department. When troubles repeatedly arose in the police department, the only thing that was clear was that the buck didn't stop at the Mayor's desk for anything that went wrong within IMPD. After Straub's forced resignation, Ballard conducted a nationwide search for Straub's successor and settled on a former police chief of Louisville, Kentucky and Corpus Christi, Texas as his new public safety director, Troy Riggs. Riggs clearly possesses the credential to serve as public safety director, although I think it's an unnecessary bureaucratic layer that the city could do without it. It also became clear that Riggs and not Ballard, like his predecessors, would be in charge of the various public safety agencies, including the police department. Here's what he told the Star when asked about interim police chief Rick Hite and other issues facing the department:
“I am very concerned about the lack of patrol officers,” said Troy Riggs at a news conference with Mayor Greg Ballard at the City-County Building. “Patrol officers are the backbone of any police force. I’d like it to be up over 50 percent of the force.”
That would mean Riggs plans to send about 200 more officers to the street. Most of those officers would have to be reassigned from desk jobs but he said technology might enable other officer to spend more time patrolling and less time writing reports.
Riggs also said he had no immediate plans to replace interim Police Chief Rick Hite or the chiefs in charge of the fire, homeland security and animal care and control departments, which he also oversees.
“I spoke to Chief Hite and he will continue in his role,” Riggs said, “I have no plans to remove him. He will get a chance to prove himself.”
Riggs' quick decision to leave Rick Hite in charge of IMPD is not at all comforting to rank-and-file police officers and experienced leaders within the department. Hite is woefully unqualified to lead a large police department and Riggs, as an experienced police chief who worked his way up through the ranks, should have already figured that out. Hite's experience in Baltimore was not even remotely considered that of someone on a track to become a police chief. If Riggs was told that he had to keep on Hite as a condition of his appointment as public safety director, then he may have failed before he even starts his first day on the job. “I am not a micromanager,” Riggs said. “My style is to let directors and chiefs set their own objectives and goals. They will have that authority.” Well, he better plan on micromanaging Hite or he's going to have an unmitigated disaster on his hands, and as we've seen before, the buck will stop at his desk, not Ballard's.

1 comment:

CircleCityScribe said...

Ballard is not accepting responsibility for the Police Department. With Goldsmith's advice I'm sure he is keeping a distance.

His former pledge that "Public Safety Is Job #1" is now void.

Neighborhoods are now hiring their own off-duty police to fill the void that Ballard created, of insufficient police in our city. People want safe neighborhoods. Ballard is depriving them of authorized police officers and neglecting his duty to hire and train new police.

The "Co-Police Chief" concept is a failure.

As we continue to have home invasions, a jeweler shot in his home, and other crime that shocks our community...the Mayor just ignores it.