Cleveland city manager evaluation, police chief selection in works

Cleveland city manager evaluation, police chief selection in works

July 13th, 2015 by Paul Leach in Local Regional News

Cleveland Police Department officers respond to a crime scene in this April photo.

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Cleveland is accepting applications for a new police chief, and the process for the first-ever evaluation for the city manager position is underway.

Although the evaluation of City Manager Janice Casteel, who has served in the position for eight years, is not on the City Council's agenda for today, Vice Mayor George Poe said he expects the matter will be discussed.

"She is a good friend and a conscientious worker," Poe said. "Nobody is perfect, but she has been a great servant to our city."

In late May, the Cleveland City Council voted 6-1 to evaluate Casteel's performance after businessman Ben Moore publicly criticized her leadership and called for her removal from office. Only Councilman Charlie McKenzie voted against the measure.

Moore's criticisms and the City Council's decision to evaluate Casteel follow a period of highly publicized turmoil involving the leadership of the Cleveland Police Department, which lost two chiefs in the aftermath of sex scandals in an 18-month period.

Councilman Richard Banks has said he believes Casteel, who was city clerk and financial director for a number of years before accepting the city manager post, "could better serve our citizens by attending full time to the matters involving the financial issues of our great city."

The City Council's concerns about Casteel's handling of police department leadership also are evident, Banks said, citing a 7-0 vote in March to hire law enforcement consultant Larry Wallace to evaluate the department's policies, procedures and organization.

However, Poe said he doesn't expect Casteel's evaluation will result in her removal.

"I could be wrong, but I don't think anything much will come of it," he said.

In late June, the council selected an evaluation format from three options recommended by the University of Tennessee Municipal Technical Advisory Service. Council members also discussed conducting the evaluation on July 1, Casteel's hire date as city manager.

The council is still working through how to handle the first-ever evaluation, Poe said.

Also today, Wallace is expected to tell council members the city will accept applications for the police chief position through July 31.

Wallace's status report also states Casteel is "chairing a committee that is charged with the synchronization" of the Cleveland Police Department's Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement manual with the city of Cleveland manual.

Attorneys representing officers who have recently been fired or disciplined have questioned the city manager's ability to take actions based on police policies never officially adopted by the council.

Casteel previously told the Times Free Press the City Council's vote to allow the police department to adopt CALEA standards equated to adopting the personnel policies.

However, CALEA officials have told the Times Free Press that is not how the process works; the organization's mandatory standards must be adopted and enforced by local government to actually have the force of law.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at