CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- Cleveland leaders have wasted no time in expressing their intentions to give Mark Gibson, the city's new police chief, more say-so when it comes to disciplinary actions.
On Monday, within an hour of Gibson taking his oath of office during a packed Cleveland City Council meeting, Councilman Richard Banks voiced concerns about the authority of the police chief.
"It ought to be adopted as our personnel policy that Chief Gibson ought to be able to hire and fire his employees," said Banks, citing recommendations made by law enforcement consultant Larry Wallace.
Wallace, who was hired by the City Council in March to help overhaul Cleveland Police Department policies, procedures and organization, called for personnel policies to provide the police chief with legal authority to exercise disciplinary actions.
Under Cleveland's current charter, the city manager is the primary disciplinarian of all city employees.
Although he "is a consummate professional it is simply not realistic to believe a successful tenure is possible for Chief Gibson unless a reasonable level of legally recognized delegation of authority by the City Manager in disciplinary matters is authorized," said Wallace in a recent presentation to the City Council. "This recommendation cannot be overemphasized."
The "inherent nature and ultimate success of this profession requires that police officers both know and respect the true authority, judgment and expectations of their leader," Wallace said.facebook
The city's human resources committee is currently consulting with attorney J. Gregory Grisham, a workplace law expert, concerning proposed changes to Cleveland's personnel policies, especially those addressing disciplinary procedures.
Gibson succeeds Dennis Maddux, who served at the post for one day before he was demoted back to captain in March amid a highly publicized scandal in which he was discovered having an affair with a subordinate officer's wife. Maddux resigned instead of being fired in late May, after investigators determined he lied during an investigation overseen by the 10th Judicial District Attorney's Office.
While Gibson has little more than one week under his belt as the department's official chief, he has been in charge of day-to-day operations for most of the last 12 months.
In September 2014, he was named acting chief while then-Chief David Bishop took an extended medical leave, serving in that role until mid-January. From March until his appointment as chief, he served as the department's interim chief.
District Attorney General Stephen Crump praised the appointment of Gibson as the new chief of the Cleveland Police Department, citing a relationship that goes back more than 20 years.
"He's a very capable leader," Crump said. "He's a person of integrity and great experience. He's exactly, I think, what the department is looking for, and I expect great things under his leadership."
Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.