The New Rochelle put a halt to a proposal to shift police department captains out of the union.
The City Council voted 5-2 against establishing three assistant police commissioner positions. Only Mayor Noam Bramson and Councilman Barry Fertel, D-District 5, voted for the proposal.
In a memorandum to City Manager Charles Strome III, Police Commissioner Patrick Carroll said the reorganization of the department would better facilitate command-level management, reduce the budget and allow for discretion in appointing division commanders.
"I recommend we abolish the civil service title and position of police captain and replace it with the civilian position of deputy police commander," he said.
Carroll explained, under the current hierarchy, captains are chosen from the top three candidates on the civil service promotions list, and being on that list is determined by a civil service test score. He said having captains pursue disciplinary measures against fellow union members, albeit subordinates, could cause problems.
At Tuesday's council meeting, Carroll said that the department had been considering the change for over five years.
"We have three captains running three critical units," he said. "That person in that position, there is no way to remove him short of major charges. No flexibility."
Carroll said the reorganization would have allowed him or his successors the ability to choose someone for the division head on criteria other than test results.
The city council had to establish the three positions before the Public Employee Relations Board would determine whether the jobs would be considered "Managerial/Confidential" and, as a result, could not be represented by the union.
Strome said, were the city to approve the reorganization, that the police union could go to the Public Employee Relations Board and oppose the plan.
"In my opinion, it is the management staff of the city saying this is what we think is best for the organization," he said. "Either you are going to agree with it or you don't."
For Bramson, the vote was not healthy for the police department or the relationship between the City Council and the staff.
He said that none of the council members had ever served in a police department and were unaware of the type of dynamics within it. Plus, the recommendation was clear and unambiguous.
"This is precisely the kind of issue that the City Council should be most deferential to its management team," Bramson said. "If we are dissatisfied with the outcome, we should hold them accountable."
He said that in order to hold managers accountable they have to be able to be hired and fired.
"If we are not going to trust the judgment of our city manager on an issue of this kind," Bramson said, "we should be getting a new city manager."
Councilman Jared Rice, D-District 3, voted against the proposal.
"There is a lot of opposition to this," he said, "and I just don't know if today is the time to move on this."