Last week the St. Petersburg City Council had the opportunity to meet the four candidates vying to become the next police chief, but some of them complained that they had hoped to have more time. A meeting scheduled to last only half an hour was extended to give them more time to evaluate the three men and one woman vying to succeed Chuck Harmon.
The city charter prevents them from having any say about who the mayor will select, yet some members are unhappy that they don't have more power.
That perplexes Mayor Rick Kriseman.
"You know, I’ll be honest. I don’t understand what the frustration with them is," the mayor told CL Tuesday night before a discussion on Greenlight Pinellas in west St.Pete. "The charter is what the charter is," he said, adding that during last year's campaign he said he told council members that he wanted their feedback "in the form that you're allowed to — which is to tell me what you think the strengths and weaknesses of the candidates are. It was that way when I was on Council."
Council members Karl Nurse, Steve Kornell, Amy Foster and Darden Rice have all publicly complained about not having enough involvement in the choice between St. Petersburg Assistant Chief Melanie Bevan, Goodyear (AZ) Police Chief Jerry Geier, Montgomery County (MD) Police Capt. Terrance Pierce and Thaddeus Reddish, Asst. Chief of Police, New Haven, Conn.
"There wasn't any intention to exclude them from the process," the mayor insists.
The Council's criticisms about the police selection process was blasted in an editorial in the Tampa Bay Times this morning. The paper wrote:
Council members should stop making the mayor's job more difficult. If they want a say in hiring a police chief as they do in hiring a city attorney and city clerk, they should ask voters to change the city charter to give them that authority.
Until then, stop meddling.
Kriseman says he intends to select the next chief after he returns from a vacation he's taking with his family from July 1-July 8. He says he's heard some frustration from some people that he's taking his time, but he says he'd rather make the choice after he comes back from the 4th of July break, not after.
"There are some saying why don’t you decide before you leave, and I’m like, 'I don’t want to make a decision and then leave town.' I don’t think that’s a good message, and while I have complete confidence in my staff to deal with anything, that’s not the point."