RAWLINS ¬– Tuesday’s city council sparked intense debate regarding the how the council should accept personnel recommendations for the Police Civil Service Commission.
The debate began when Travis Moore, a member of the commission, and Rawlins Police Chief Troy Palmer took to the podium to request three additional members. The request came as the commission felt they needed professional expertise when revising the promotion requirements and the service manual in general.
“My colleagues and I kinda kicked the bee’s nest and opened up the policy manual,” said Moore.
Due to the intense technical language and the service manual’s importance, the members of the commission felt inadequately prepared to entirely rewrite the RPD service manual.
Thus, Amy Bach, city attorney, Lt. Richard Hooper of the RPD, and Sgt. Christopher Craig also from the RPD were recommended to the council by Moore and Palmer to bolster the ranks of the commission.
Moore stated these individuals gave the commission experience in the field and legal expertise during their revision efforts. Chief Palmer further confirmed the two RPD Officers as qualified and experienced candidates who would provide valuable input and information during the arduous revision process.
Councilperson DeBari Martinez expressed concerns over simply adopting additional members based the recommendations of the commission and chief without being provided a list of candidates to choose from.
“It feels like you’re stacking the deck,” said Martinez. “I know you’re not, but that’s what it seems like.”
Palmer stated he would happily provide the council with a list of five qualified officers if they desired a wider pool of candidates. The list is unlikely to be further increased from five, as the RPD currently only has two lieutenants and three sergeants, according to Palmer.
While Martinez conceded the three recommendations were well qualified for the position, he voiced his disagreement with not providing a list of candidates from the beginning.
“It just didn’t look right,” said Martinez during a later interview on Thursday.
He went onto say the mayor’s job is to appoint positions, rather than be told who to appoint.
“I’m not out to slam the police, or the chief,” continued Martinez on Thursday. “It has to do with protocol.”
Acting mayor Steve Sanger raised concerns about naming the three new members without knowing or even speaking to the recommended candidates.
Councilperson Jacqueline Wells further agreed, stating interviews with the potential appointees were needed for the council to make an informed decision.
As such, the council voted to delay the issue until the June 18 meeting, in order for the mayor to interview the candidates.
The delay will result in several promotions within the RPD also being delayed, as one of the main changes up for debate was the language and exact needs for promotions.
Moore stated the current service manual had requirements that remain impossible or extremely difficult to accomplish. Moore said several training requirements can no longer be completed, as courses matching the service manual are no longer offered.
According to Moore, the department and the commission initially stumbled into this quagmire after several retirements left senior positions within the RPD vacant.
Along with the resolution for the strange mix of difficult and impossible requirements for promotion being bogged down by the delay, an addition eight-weeks are needed to meet promotion advertisement requirements, which will further slow promotions.