It looks like Randy Rudy’s job as chief of the Aberdeen Police Department is safe – at least for the time being – although it remains unclear whether Mayor Mike Bennett is giving the chief a chance or simply had his hands tied thanks to a parting gift from the city’s former mayor.
In an email written by Bennett last week and provided by Art Helton, the mayor made it clear he wants Rudy to remain the city’s police chief, but, beyond that, he wants Aberdeen’s top cop to be the one running the department. Under the administration of former Mayor Fred Simmons it was often questioned who was running the Aberdeen Police Department – Rudy or Simmons.
“Chief Rudy is a law enforcement professional whom I respect. I have had several conversations with him over the past month and shared with him my desire for him to run his dept,” Bennett wrote.
“We talked about his being placed in a secondary position over the past 2 years and I assured him that I was going to give him an opportunity to run his dept. and that unless I had a brainstorm (I do have some experience in this area) I would work through the City Manager,” he continued.
So Bennett is giving Rudy “an opportunity” to run the department he’s helmed for the balance of the last decade?
Bennett also confirmed that he finally met with and understands the concerns of members of the Aberdeen Police Department and the Municipal Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 128, who had requested an appearance with the new mayor several times before Bennett complied.
“I have also met with the President and Vice-President of the FOP and listened to their concerns and assured them that I had the same concerns (LEOPS) and in fact have been working on this matter since the middle of December,” Bennett wrote.
Rudy’s contract was believed to have been up for renewal in February and there was speculation he would be replaced, at least in the interim, by Captain Henry Trabert, but it now appears the police chief was given a parting gift by his good friend Simmons as he left office.
“Chief Rudy’s contract was renewed prior to the election and is in effect until Feb. 2009,” Bennett confirmed.
That’s interesting because I, for one, sure don’t remember any vote by the Aberdeen City Council to extend Rudy’s contract just prior to the November election – something like that surely would have been noticed and resonated loudly during the highly-charged election season.
Helton, Bennett’s transition team chairman, said he’s not even sure how Simmons arranged for Rudy’s contract renewal prior to his being voted out of office or if it’s something the mayor could do on his own or only with the votes of the city council.
“I am not technically sure of the ratification process for extending the contracts for the city of Aberdeen’s contractual employees. It does seem as if that should require concurrence of the council which in this case was not sought. That extension did occur before Simmons left office. At this time it appears to be a mute point since all parties agree to retain Chief Rudy. It is my understanding that any contractual employee can be terminated with cause without penalty to the city. It is my further understanding that a contractual employee can be terminated without cause by buying out their contract not to exceed six months,” Helton wrote in an email.
It’s clear from this internal City of Aberdeen email provided to The Dagger, that the city police department was told as early as Dec. 19 that Rudy would remain chief and that no department heads’ positions will be in jeopardy. Instead of changes in personnel, there will be changes in priorities and expectations, city manager Doug Miller wrote in his email, which was sent only to select police officers and city officials – but not Rudy.
However, Miller hints that the department heads will only be given so many chances to produce results under the Bennett administration.
From: Miller, Doug
Sent: Wednesday, January 09, 2008 9:54 AM
To: Cox, Kenneth; Trabert, Henry; Bane, Kirk; Budnick, Fred; McGarvey, James; Severn, Albert; Swain, David; Testerman, James; Testerman, James; Burke, Anthony; Palmer, Anthony; Smith, Stephen
Cc: Correll, Monica; ‘firstname.lastname@example.org‘
Subject: Chief of Police Status
As a follow-up to our meeting of several weeks ago (December 19), let me reiterate a point that I made. In that meeting Sgt. McGarvey asked if there was going to be a “regime change” as a result of the last municipal election. As you may remember, I said that there was not going to be one.
Last Friday the Record Newspaper ran a front page article questioning Chief Rudy’s status with the Aberdeen Police Department. Let me assure you that there is no effort to replace Chief Rudy as Police Chief. I have had conversations with every one of the elected officials who individually and collectively expressed their dismay over the Record article.
With any new administration, there will be changes in priorities and emphasis. There will also be some changes in expectations. I, as City Manager, and my Department Heads will be responsible to react to those changes and will be judged accordingly. This is a natural part of our jobs as municipal officials. But, it has been made very clear that we will be given every opportunity to do our jobs and produce results. It has also been made clear that no Department Head’s employment status is in jeopardy.
I understand that the Record article has been unsettling, but let’s just ignore it and get back to work
Incidentally, of the 60 people who have voted so far in The Dagger poll asking whether Chief Rudy should stay or go, 45 people, an overwhelming 75 percent, indicated they believe Rudy should remain Aberdeen police chief.