It seems like it will never end, but once again, the deck chairs are being re-arranged on the sinking Titanic known as HPD. In a city suffering from extremely violent crimes this year, I'm not sure anyone on the command level at HPD gets it.
When approving this years budget, the Council seemed to send a clear message that they thought the Hartford Police Department was top heavy with "leaders". The Council cut $300,000 from the budget specifically from the Chiefs Office and , again, seemed to make it pretty clear that they wanted two Assistant Chief positions cut. As of tomorrow, one position will be eliminated and resulted in the termination, retirement,resignation or whatever you want to call it, of Assistant Chief Lester McKoy.
Now as a result of that, one other Assistant Chief position that the Council wanted cut remains still filled by Assistant Chief John Horvath, the lowest in seniority of the two remaining Assistant Chiefs.
In reassigning the tasks that Chief McKoy was responsible for prior to his termination, retirement, resignation or whatever you want to call it, it has resulted in a full scale shake up of the Chief's Complex.
Not only was Chief Horvath's position "saved" through the efforts of Chief Roberts, it also resulted in two new police officer positions being cut from the new recruit class to find the money to save Horvath. If that wasn't bad enough, Assistant Chief Horvath has now been assigned a Lieutenant to serve as his "Executive Officer". From what sources are telling me, this is the first time that an Assistant Chief has had an executive officer assigned to them.
If the Council was trying to send a message to the Chief, it seems like the message isn't being heard. The two remaining Deputy Chiefs have also had their assignments redefined. Since the creation of those positions at the start of the "Neighborhood Policing Plan" several years ago, one Deputy Chief was responsible for the North half of the City and the other responsible for the South half of the City. That will no longer be the case.
Also, at least two Lieutenants have had their responsibilities increased in addition to the Lieutenant who has been assigned as Horvath's executive officer. Lt. Mac Hawkins, who was supervising Major Crimes for the last few months, has been assigned as the "XO" to Horvath. Hawkins played a key role with his performance on the Pawtucket Street shooting video.
Lt. Brian Foley has been assigned as the new Commander of the Major Crimes Division and the Evidentiary Services Division. This move seems to make sense as the two divisions typically work hand in hand after almost every major crime incident. Foley is a capable supervisor that will hopefully take full advantage of the opportunity. Foley comes from a family with a long line of law enforcement professionals.
The interesting part is that Foley currently has a lawsuit pending against Chief Roberts. It might be hard to prove any discrimination on the part of Robert's against Foley now that Foley has been given what many would consider the prime assignment for a Lieutenant at HPD. Foley's claim was that Roberts had made homophobic and unprofessional comments publicly directed at Foley.
Lieutenant Lance Sigersmith, who had commanded the Major Crimes division until recently when he was transferred to the Intelligence Division will also apparently take on the responsibility of the Crime Analysis Division. Sigersmith is also a very capable and professional supervisor and probably one of the most well educated members of HPD, having attained his Masters degree.Lt. Sigersmith would be one of those at the top of my list if I had a choice for the next Chief at HPD.
I think the expansion of the areas of responsibility for Foley and Sigersmith make sense in streamlining the Department. The assignment of Hawkins to shadow Horvath does not. Supervision and uniformed bodies on the streets are what we need right now, not another layer of management to prop up an Assistant Chief.
City Hall should really look at the issue of cutting the two new police officers to save Horvath's position. Horvath will most likely retire and be gone in a couple years, the two new recruits who were cut would be serving the City, quite possibly for the next 20 years or more. As the numbers of officers continues to drop, we need every body on the street possible. Although the number of Officers came close to 460 with the addition of a new class last July, the numbers are now back to around 428 officers.