February 24, 2024

No different metropolis in California besides Santa Clara nonetheless has an elected police chief. Lower than 20% of the municipalities within the state have an elected metropolis clerk.

It’s time to depoliticize the 2 jobs in Santa Clara. Metropolis voters within the March 5 election ought to professionalize the posts and transfer them into the 21st century by approving Measure A, concerning the town clerk, and Measure B, concerning the police chief.

The measures would maintain the town clerk and police chief to the identical requirements as different metropolis division heads. Appointed jobs employed by and accountable to the town supervisor. Topic to annual evaluations. Required to carry out professionally to remain employed.

Below the present byzantine system, the police chief and metropolis clerk stand for election each 4 years, however they’re normally unopposed. In between, and in elections after they haven’t any challenger, they’re accountable to nobody. And solely metropolis residents can run for the roles.

Police chief decide

That implies that, on the subject of the police chief, for instance, whereas different cities can conduct nationwide searches for the most effective candidate, Santa Clara is caught with solely a handful of people that can meet the residency and regulation enforcement-experience necessities and are outfitted to be chief.

Which helps clarify why in six of the final 9 elections relationship again to 1988, the police chief choice was uncontested. Few can run. And when there are challengers on the poll, it’s the form of native authorities election wherein voters are ill-equipped to make a well-informed choice and is, therefore, ripe for special-interest manipulation.

The present chief, Patrick Nikolai, elected in 2020, had beforehand served for 18 years because the president of the Police Officers’ Affiliation. In 2021, he obtained $524,000 in pay and advantages, in keeping with Clear California. The group’s information confirmed him to be the seventh highest compensated police chief within the state that 12 months.

Little marvel that Nikolai opposes Measure B, which might result in his shedding his profitable job. Little marvel that the Police Officers’ Affiliation president additionally opposes the measure. It will undermine his group’s political energy to sway the election.

Making issues worse, having an elected chief has created ridiculous strains of authority. The chief is elected whereas the 2 assistant police chiefs report back to the town supervisor. And the town supervisor hires and disciplines officers.

In most cities, the police chief stories to the town supervisor, who in flip stories to the town council. That’s the way it must be, insulating the chief’s job from politics whereas offering for ongoing efficiency accountability.

Metropolis clerk choice

Whereas the stakes are usually not as nice with the town clerk, the rules are related: In six of the final 10 elections, the town clerk choice has been uncontested. The clerk is accountable to nobody between elections. And he actually doesn’t do a lot within the $1,500-a-month job.