Those who know me know that I am big on “the vision thing” as the first President Bush called it. Simply put, leading is a verb that implies a destination. The vision is that destination. For the entirety of my professional law enforcement involvement, one thing has always been clear, we were moving toward greater professionalism.
That is not to say that I have been in favor of all of the advancements. I remain concerned that department-installed video surveillance may cause an officer to be reluctant to react appropriately, but at least the progress and counter-argument of accountability made sense from an “advancing professionalism” perspective.
What now concerns me is the political and/or administrative decision to replace police chiefs with individuals who do not meet the necessary criteria to take law enforcement action. I know that money is tight and I understand the argument that there are talented administrators that can run a complicated agency; I just don’t see that this is moving us toward greater professionalism.
Many will say that the head of the agency does not do police work, so they do not need to be sworn. I say that it is not a bad idea for the head of the agency to do police work. While I was not the agency head (I retired as an assistant chief of a 400+ sworn agency), the final of my 800+ career arrests was a motor vehicle / controlled substance arrest made at gunpoint as an assistant chief, in uniform and on patrol, the week of my retirement. Now, not everyone believed that I should be doing police work as a sergeant, a lieutenant, a captain, and as an assistant chief; but I have touted at every rank that I have held, that no matter how high you rise in an agency, you still retain your oath, your shield, and your gun.
That is, of course, unless you are a civilian.
Back on point, I may be wrong on this idea of replacing police chiefs with non-sworn directors. But in all fairness, someone needs to truthfully explain the “greater-professionalism-vision,” not cost-savings, that this change will bring before you start to get me to buy in.