Wednesday, July 18, 2001
Police Commission Considers Reorganization of Staff
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Police Commission debated yesterday whether to shuffle staff to allow the board secretary to report directly to the panel’s full-time executive director.
Supporters of the proposal say it would strengthen the position of the executive director and allow the position to have more communication with the panel. Commissioners appear to be leaning toward the reorganization, which was recommended by the commission’s Rampart Independent Review Panel.
The review panel, made up of over 160 people from different backgrounds, was set up by the commission to investigate policies and procedures to determine what led to Rampart.
Currently the board secretary reports directly to the commission, dealing mainly with the commission president.
Commission President Raquelle de la Rocha led the charge for the staffing shuffle, which she said would allow the part-time commissioners to have “better communication” with Executive Director Joseph Gunn.
The board secretary is responsible for scheduling meetings and coordinating all agenda material for the commission and for maintaining records of the proceedings.
The secretary also serves as the conflict of interest coordinator and as a liaison to the Ethics Commission, City Attorney’s Office, and the Office of the Chief of Police, as well as being responsible for overseeing and scheduling civilian hearing examiners for permit hearings and Boards of Rights.
Assigning the secretary to report to the executive director would enable him to know everything that is going on that pertains to the commission.
“As president, it is my experience that it would be better if the secretary did report directly to the executive director,” de la Rocha said.
Commission Vice President Dean Hansell objected to changing the secretary’s reporting duties, saying there could be issues of confidentiality and certain matters having to do with commission personnel would only pertain to the commission and the board secretary.
“The board secretary is the custodian of records,” Hansell said, adding that he has personnel files that he would like to hand over to the secretary when the new commission takes over. “It would make less sense to turn them over to the executive director.”
Hansell, a four-year veteran of the commission, also noted that there have been instances when the secretary was needed at a meeting of commissioners where the executive director’s presence was not warranted.
“There are times when we discuss things of a confidential nature,” Hansell said. “It could be an awkward situation if we ask the board secretary to do that.”
Despite Hansell’s concerns, commissioner Rebecca Avila, former executive director of the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission, agreed with de la Rocha, saying that it was “much more sensible” to have the secretary report to the executive director and that any confidentiality problems could be circumvented.
Gunn also supported the move, saying that while the present board secretary policy allows him to have a “cooperative relationship” with the commission, the reorganization would allow him to be better informed and give better advice to the commission and its activities.
Commissioners asked that the City Attorney’s Office research the city charter to see if there are any provisions regarding how the board secretary is supposed to be assigned.
De la Rocha said she would like the commission to retain hiring rights of the secretary even if the position does report directly to the executive director.
A final decision on the reorganization is expected Tuesday.
Copyright 2001, Metropolitan News Company