San Bernardino Mayor Pat Morris

 

Mayor: No leadership void for SB police
Josh Dulaney, Staff Writer
Posted: 06/11/2011 03:40:54 PM PDT

SAN BERNARDINO – Mayor Pat Morris says he is not concerned about there being a void in leadership in the Police Department despite the loss of the city’s top two cops.

“We have a consistent leadership model going forward until we select a new police chief,” Morris said Friday. “That is not a concern to me.”

However, the mayor is concerned about the city’s ability to recruit and maintain quality leadership if such turnover continues, and if the city’s heated political climate doesn’t cool off.

“That has to be a concern, because the issues that have resulted in early retirements and the exit of distinguished police chiefs in our city, that does affect our recruitment,” Morris said.

“We look for the best possible candidates and just do the best to work through it, and to be totally honest (with the candidates) about the challenging political (climate) in which they will lead.”

Morris said the city has pared a list of 36 applicants down to six to be the next police chief.

On Wednesday, Assistant Police Chief Mark Garcia was selected as the new police chief in Redlands. He leaves having served 24 years with the San Bernardino Police Department.

Police Chief Keith Kilmer announced in March that he was retiring but would remain with the Police Department on an interim basis until his replacement is hired.

Kilmer started as chief in mid-2009. His tenure will be the shortest for a San Bernardino police chief in recent memory.

Not since 1965 has a chief left before serving more than two years. Kilmer has cited family reasons for his decision to retire.

He said one of the challenges in any transition is to keep the communication lines open between management and the rank-and-file.

“You assure people that the organization has gone through transition before and it will again in the future,” Kilmer said.

He has met with management and employees throughout his own transition out of the department, and Garcia’s departure also is being addressed.

Kilmer also believes it’s important to deal with rumors that can infect a police department when top brass departs.

“Sometimes that’s the difficult part of it,” he said. “You just try to keep the information flow accurate.”

Kilmer said he has made an effort to get the department to see that Garcia’s move to chief in Redlands is a mark that the department is producing quality cops.

“In Long Beach where I came from, we put out nine chiefs,” he said. “With Mark, I think we’ve really tried to focus on this as a good thing for the organization.”

That sentiment was shared by Rikke Van Johnson, councilman of Sixth Ward.

“The people that are serving in the Police Department have to be proud of the job they are doing in the city,” he said. “I would think that the public should be proud that we are developing a person like Mark Garcia, so the city of Redlands would want that type of person.”

But with so many officials praising Garcia, who began his career with this city’s Police Department in 1987 and will start his new job on Friday with a salary of $198,000, some have questioned why Morris didn’t simply tap him to succeed Kilmer.

“It was my belief that Mark should have been moved into the position, at least (on an interim basis), and save the cost of a headhunter, as well as save the cost and time it takes to go out and look for a new chief,” said 4th Ward Councilman Fred Shorett.

The police chief is appointed by the mayor and approved by the City Council.

Morris is working with Bob Murray and Associates, a Roseville-based recruiting firm, in the search for Kilmer’s replacement.

The cost for the firm, which also helped the city land Kilmer, is around $23,900, according to City Manager Charles McNeely.

Morris said Garcia was among the short list of candidates the city was to interview.

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