“Would Sarno Slow SPD Hire?” I asked in this space a couple of days ago.
The answer: nope.
On Monday, the City Council approved a non-binding resolution asking Mayor Domenic Sarno to hold off on selecting a replacement for Police Commissioner William Fitchet, who will retire this spring, and to open the search for his successor to “any and all interested and qualified candidates.” The Council is now considering a proposal to restore a five-member citizens Police Commission, replacing the one-commissioner model now in place. A number of councilors and residents have also protested Sarno’s decision to limit the pool of candidates to the SPD’s three deputy chiefs, saying the city should cast a wider net to ensure that it finds the best candidate.
Monday’s Council action reflects Police Commission supporters’ concern that Sarno will sign a contract with a new commissioner before councilors have the opportunity to vote on the commission proposal. But as Pete Goonan reports in the Republican, Sarno is moving ahead with his hiring plan.
Even if the Council did squeeze in a vote before the mayor makes a hire, the Police Commission effort still would face a tough fight. Sarno has said he would veto the proposal if it passed the Council. And City Solicitor Ed Pikula recently issued an opinion saying that the Council lacks the legal authority to restore a commission without the mayor’s support.