NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – A proposal that would have reorganized the New Rochelle Police Department was voted down by the City Council this week.
City Manager Charles Strome III brought a proposal from Police Commissioner Patrick Carroll that recommended the creation of three assistant police commissioner positions. The move, he said, would “facilitate better management at the divisional command level, reduce the budget and allow for real executive discretion in appointing divisional commanders,” according to an Aug. 22 memo from Carroll to Strome.
The council voted 5-2 against the creation of the positions. The yes votes came from Mayor Noam Bramson and Council Member Barry Fertel. “There is a lot of opposition to this. And I just don’t know, me personally, if today is actually the time to move on this. That’s just my gut feeling,” Council Member Jared Rice said.
The proposal recommended getting rid of the civil service title and position of police captain and replacing it with the civilian position of deputy police commissioner. Captains are currently chosen from the top three candidates on the captain’s promotions list, which is determined by test scores on civil service exams.
“I’ve been here almost 20 years, and I’ve had pretty much the same three captains for 20 years. That sort of tells you the possibilities that it may not work well. I was very fortunate to have three good captains. What happens if you have two that don’t work well with you?” Carroll told the City Council on Tuesday night.
Police captains currently earn, with overtime, more than $150,000 per year. The salary and benefits for a captain exceed $200,000. The cost is “too great to support appointment based on a test score,” Carroll said.
“They take an exam that’s a little more than the lieutenant’s exam. … It doesn’t show you the aptitude of the person. Is that person able to run the organization? Is that person able to manage, supervise, discipline, make the agency grow, that’s what you’re looking for. You don’t get that from a civil service exam,” he said to the City Council.
But the council should not second-guess a managerial recommendation from the city manager and the police commissioner, Bramson said. “This is precisely the kind of issue on which a City Council ought to be most deferential to its management team. If we’re dissatisfied with the outcome we hold them accountable,” he said.