Don't Trust This City Council to Appoint Your Next Police Chief

 

(Opinion) This is more of a response to an advertisement for Proposition 8 than just my opinion.  First of all, let me say that the Charter Review Committee are to be commended for the work they took on at looking at possible revisions of the charter.  The charter is basically our own constitution for the city and on occasion it should be looked at and, when necessary, revised.  Yet, some people would rather use this opportunity to try and apply their own agenda to the process and that is where things can go awry.

That seems to be what was done during this process.  I attended two town hall meetings where this topic of the appointed versus elected chief was brought up.  Overwhelmingly, on both occasions, the public voiced their opinion to keep the elected process. Now, perhaps in every other meeting the public spoke differently.  I wasn’t there, but it seems unlikely to me at this point.   The findings of the committee were then taken to the city council and the council chose which items were to be placed on the ballot.

There is an ad on San Angelo Live! that I would like to respond to.  Mr. Trinidad Aguirre, a man I just met, would have us believe that we absolutely need to have an appointed chief.  As I have just met the man, I do not know why he wants this item passed, but he seems rather passionate about it.  Passionate enough to pay for at least one ad.

The ad gives us some of the reasons that the public gave against the appointed chief.  Mr. Aguirre then tries to answer those objections himself.  First he says that we elect our council members who would ultimately make the decision on who the appointed chief would be.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  The city manager and his staff would do the interviews and make a recommendation to the council and then they, the council, would either say yes or no.

Next, he says that the PD busts the budget every year.   Well, that one is true, but, every year the department has asked for more money in particular areas of the budget where they have gone over year after year, and yet, the budget remains the same.  If the budget remains the same and the money is available elsewhere, then why not adjust the budget?  It does look bad on paper that the department has to come to the city to adjust the budget every year, but it is the city that sets the budget. Seems like they want the PD to bust their budget every year.

The “small town politics” in this city worked quite well when the city was indeed small, but that’s not the case any longer.  The idea that the politicians will bring in their favorite is probably true and the voters know this, which is why the city council is not trusted.  Of course the flip side of this is that San Angelo will never have a truly qualified person run for the position because the vote is not about qualifications, it’s about popularity.  Most voters have no idea if a candidate is qualified, they only know the face and words of a candidate, just like any other candidate for any other office.

As far as a low voter turnout goes, yes we have had a small turnout at every election.  Many people still don’t believe their vote will make a difference, and they see no reason to go out and vote.  This time though, if people really want to retain an elected chief, they need to get out and vote.  A small turnout would probably help the proposition pass.  We all need to get out and tell the city council how we really feel with a resounding vote against proposition 8.

Do the citizens of the city really believe they are smarter than the rest of the state?  That one, I don’t really have an answer for.  I know what I saw at the town hall meetings. The citizens who stood up to speak against the appointed chief were passionate and convinced that electing a chief is a better way to go in San Angelo. I don’t remember anyone ever saying they were smarter than anyone. What I do remember is them saying that they didn’t trust the council to make that decision for them.

Under the present circumstances, I do not believe that a valid argument to pass this proposition has been adequately justified in the ad. The voters need to feel that they can trust the council, but recently they have done little to justify a vote of confidence by the citizens.

Don’t get me wrong, I for one would like very much to see an appointed chief here in San Angelo.  I believe we could get a larger pool of very qualified applicants who would want to come and lead this fine department.  Under the right circumstances I think a very valid argument could be made for the appointment of a chief, but this is not it. 

I remember some time ago during a council meeting when the fire chief (not the present chief) stood up to say something and the city manager told him to sit down and shut up.  The fire chief very promptly sat down and shut up.  What we need is a chief who can stand up for his/her personnel in front of the council.  One who will fight for equipment, salaries, and more manpower as the city grows. We need a chief who will do all of these things and won’t have to worry that if he says the wrong thing, he’ll get fired. 

We need a candidate who meets the same type of qualifications as other cities use to choose a new chief.  Years of command level experience, having one of the command college’s educations, plus, practical knowledge of management and finance. In addition to these, we can set our own additional qualifications for our own chief.  I’m not sure this is really a fight for a new idea or just an old fight to control the police department.

I for one want a chief who will fight to lead our department.  What I don’t want is a police chief who will “sit down and shut up”.

Sincerely,

Sgt. John E. Rodriguez (Retired)
San Angelo Police Department
 

Comments

Comments

I too agree with Johnny Rodriguez's concern over Trinidad Aguirre's very vocal push for an appointed chief. Trinidad Aguirre, as chairman of the committee, stood before the citizens of San Angelo and assured them the committee wasn't there to give their personal opinions or to advocate one way or another, but instead were there to simply take input from the citizens to take back to the council. Mr. Aguirre, I don't think we can now consider you a man of your word. The City Council has thrown a golden opportunity right out the window when they underhandedly placed language in the ballot that states a vote for appointed is a vote for Vasquez. If we are talking about the same Vasquez I know they have made a huge mistake by not leaving the door open to numerous candidates who would have better qualifications with higher morals and integrity than what our current chief possesses. The City Council is either 1) oblivious to his dark history, or 2) doesn't care. If it's the latter, is this who you want selecting your chief? SAPD has done a good job for the last 12 years in spite of the leadership; not because of the leadership. Before you vote, ask yourself why they (the City Council and Trinidad Aguirre) are so dead set on trying to pass proposition 8.
Mike Davis
27 year SAPD Retired Officer

when aguirre and vasquez unleash whatever diabolical schemes they're working on, everyone will still feign disbelief if it's found out and proves to be unethical, or god forbid, illegal. somebody needs to tail them to mejor que nada, i mean western skies, and listen to their conversations. or come on guys, use the stingrays for something important!

No one should be able to hold one office for so many years, and now they want to make it a lifetime position. I don't believe it is a good idea to give one man so much power for so long.

I am married to retired Police Officer Jeff Davis, through him I’ve learned to appreciate more than I ever did, the service Police Officers provide to our community. Day after day they put their own safety at risk in order to provide us the security we need, as we go on our daily lives. Sure, the last thing we want to see, are those flashing lights on our rearview mirror, but those very same lights can’t come fast enough in times of need.

There is something in my heart I feel compelled to share with you. Reasons that led me to spend my own money in a few ads I’ve placed against an appointed Police Chief system. I strongly believe an appointed system at this time, (and especially, after the way our current city leaders agreed to include Proposition 8 on the ballot) is not right for our community.

Back in 2007, 2 SAPD Officers retired, Police Officer Carole A. Brown and Detective Jeff Davis, there was a very nice retirement ceremony held in the parking lot of the SAPD building. Chief Vasquez gave a nice speech. The retiring Officers were presented with certificates of recognition among other very nice mementos.

At that time, Jeff received 2 certificates from Chief Vasquez, I’d like to share contents with you as well as the contents in a certified letter he received a few years later, from the Chief.
The first certificate reads:

“Certificate of Retirement from the San Angelo Police Department, to all who shall see these presents, greeting: this is to certify that Police Officer Jeffery L. Davis having served faithfully and honorably, was retired from the SAPD on the 30th day of November, 2007 San Angelo, Texas signed by Tim Vasquez, Chief SAPD.”

The second certificate reads:

“San Angelo Police Department Certificate of Appreciation to Police Officer Jeffery Davis. On the occasion of your retirement from active service, I wish to extend to you my personal thanks and the sincere appreciation of the SAPD for the many years of outstanding service which you have given to our Department. You have helped maintain the peace and security of our City during these many years with a devotion to duty and a spirit of sacrifice in keeping with the proud traditions established within the police profession.

I share your pride in the contributions you have made to the Department and its ability to accomplish its mission. I trust that you will maintain an active interest in the Department and its objectives during your retirement.

You take with you my best wishes and those of your contemporaries for happiness and success in the years that lie ahead. Signed by Kevin Hollway, Tim Vasquez, Chief SAPD” and another unreadable signature beneath Kevin’s signature.

Indeed Jeff kept a very active interest in the Department.

At the time of his retirement, Jeff was a Detective in the Narcotics Division. Part of that team were Jaime Padron and Rob Parry. These 3 guys became best of friends and absolutely loved working together and going after the bad guys. As some of you know, Jaime was passionate about politics and very much against a lot of things the current Chief is about and openly would question where Vasquez’s leadership was headed to. A group of Police Officers and needless to say Jaime, approached and convinced Jeff to run for Chief of Police. (I just wish Jaime himself would’ve ran). These Officers thought 4 more years of the same was absolutely not good for the department. Jeff entered the Chief of Police race and was among 5, (2 of those candidates were SAPD Officers) that ran against the current Chief. That should have raised a big red flag to Vasquez’s supporters, as to why so many would run against him. And obviously not even the Texas Ranger investigation of Chief Vasquez, made them question his ability to run the SAPD. By the way in case anybody is curious about that here is the link. http://conchoinfo.blogspot.com/2007/11/rangers-reports.html

Jeff was the only one that ran against the current Chief, in the following election in 2012. Even though he didn’t collect any funds for advertising or campaigned as much as he would’ve like to have done. He still managed to get 30% of the votes. (about 1700 people -if I remember right- did not want Chief Vasquez’s leadership to continue).

I was during this election we lost our dear friend Jaime. We know God’s plan is not our own and have learned to accept that. But our hearts still ache and wish more than ever, that he and his family would’ve never moved to Austin. Our family misses him more than words could ever describe. We keep his family close to our hearts and in our thoughts and prayers. We also miss our friend Rob and his family, who moved from San Angelo, after he joined Border Patrol.

This brings me to Vasquez’s retaliation tactics, if someone dares to disagree or challenge him in any way. His supporters elected him to use his position for the benefit of the Police Officers and our Community, not to abuse the power that comes with it, to pursue his own personal agenda.

The following is from a certified letter Jeff and his brother Mike (also a retired Police Officer from SAPD 27 years) received in August of 2012. To this date, no other SAPD retiree has received this type of letter. The letter are identical just the signatures are slightly different.

The letter is SAPD stationary w/logo.

“TIM R. VASQUEZ
CHIEF OF POLICE
Dear Mr. Davis,
This letter is to inform you that you will no longer be allowed to do your annual firearm qualification at the San Angelo Police Department gun range. If you do qualify at another location as prescribed by law, and can not find another agency that will provide your necessary ID, you can bring in a notarized letter stating you have met the annual qualifications and the SAPD records division will provide you with the necessary ID.

Furthermore, you will no longer be allowed to attend any training at any SAPD location or any training provided by the SAPD.

Signed Tim Vasquez”

These two brothers have an awesome relationship. They love, respect and support each other, as it should be. I think Mike got the letter for openly supporting his brother’s decision to run in the last election. Jeff probably received his for running against him. Or maybe, this is the way Chief Vasquez really likes show his appreciation, for over 49 years of outstanding service they provided our Community.

Their jobs in the SAPD, at times, required them to deal and have dealt with the worst of the worst in our society. They have seen the evil things people can do to one another. But protecting the innocent is what they are trained to do and have done well. What’s sad to me is that facing evil can happen within the walls of the Department itself and not necessarily in the streets our Police Officers patrol.

--The above information is just what I felt someone out there, needed to know. Especially voters supporting Prop 8/Chief Vasquez.—

Jeff, after his retirement, went on to serve at Goodfellow AFB as a Civilian Police Officer for the Dept. of the Air Force, from October 2008 till November 2011. While working as a truck driver for a local company he applied for a Police Officer position, (at age 53) at The Colony PD. After going through all necessary hiring requirements, he ended up top 2 among the applicants. The Colony’s Police Chief offered him the job in December of 2013. After giving it serious consideration, we decided it was best for our family to remain in San Angelo and Jeff respectfully declined the offer. He’s worked for a construction company out of Garden City since and now he’s starting his own business.

Jeff and Mike will always get ahead in life and live life to the fullest, no matter the circumstances. Regardless of what Vasquez was trying to accomplish by excluding them from training/firearm qualification/etc. from the SAPD.

Thank you if you took the time to read my comment.

Respectfully yours,

Alicia B. Davis.

Alicia, I think some of this info needs to be reiterated to the public in light of the current election(s). Just because a name is recognizable, doesn't mean it's the right choice. Let's get this article live again! reply

Katie, I did share this on my FB page after I read your post. My apologies for not replying sooner, as you might imagine campaigning, work, homework, etc takes most of my day...I replied to you a little while ago, but it's on the post below.Thank you for your comment and have a great evening! Alicia.

Katie, Thank you so much for reading my rather lengthy post/rant... from a few months ago. I was surprised (& am very thankful) SA live! allowed it to stay and be read by the public. At that time I didn't know my husband Jeff Davis would be running for a 3rd time for chief of police! Can't say I am surprised by his decision, because he gave his word about 8 years ago when he was asked to run for chief.... change was needed then and change is most desperately needed now.

I am very passionate about what's right and wrong. The way our government presents issues to us, (the public/voters), I believe, at times it's not very transparent. Such as it was here in our city last year!... to vote on such an important proposition, not knowing what you were actually voting for,,,to me it was just not right! I openly opposed & spoke up to inform voters on prop 8 back in November..I have asked a couple of people one within the city council and one running for a city council position (he brought up that prop to council), where transparency applies to that prop..may be someday I'll get the correct/right or true answer....

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