TURNOVER IN THE PUBLIC SECTOR EXECUTIVE POSITION OF CHIEF OF
POLICE: AN EXPLORATORY STUDY OF COLORADO POLICE CHIEFS
Fred W. Rainguet
B.A., St Thomas Seminary College, 1971
M.P.A., University of Colorado at Boulder, 1979
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
This thesis for the Doctor of Philosophy
Fred W. Rainguet
has been approved
Rainguet, Fred W. (Ph.D., Public Administration)
Turnover in the Public Sector Executive Position of Chief of Police: An Exploratory Study of
Colorado Police Chiefs
Thesis directed by Professor Mark R. Pogrebin
This study explores the issues that concern the tenure of police chiefs in the state of
Colorado and the factors associated with turnover in the executive public sector position of
chief of police. Through exploratory fieldwork and an examination of the police chiefs'
occupational life histories, the research discovers factors associated with their rise to police
chief positions and their eventual separations, terminations, or retirement
In recent years the position of police chief, both in major cities as well as small towns, has
become a virtual "revolving door" with police chiefs leaving with such suddenness as to cause
expense and distraction for the local agencies and governments involved. This study allowed
former incumbents to "tell their stories" of how they became police chiefs and how it came to
be that they left their police-chief positions. The study provides representative cases of police
chiefs who articulate the reasons and factors for leaving the police-chief position.
The fieldwork involved confidential audiotaped interviews of ten police chiefs. The data
from the interviews were triangulated through document collection. Documents, such as
memoranda, letters, official press releases, and news accounts, corroborated the interview
data. From the data, themes and patterns regarding the reasons and factors for the
departure of the police chiefs from their positions were identified and discussed. From the
themes found in the data, implications for public administration were drawn.
Factual findings in the study include considerations of age, education, size of department,
and years of tenure in the police-chief position. The major reasons and factors for leaving the
police-chief position found in the study were health, stress, personnel issues, accepting
another position, lack of support from city officials, job security, and retirement The
implications for public administration discussed in the study include health and psychological
examinations for police-chief candidates, employment contracts, estimating the reality of
being a police chief on the part of candidates, and items for future research.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the c
I dedicate this dissertation to my mother, Lucy M. Rainguet, to my family, and to all of
my police-chief, police-officer, and academic colleagues.
My sincere thanks goes to my committee chair, Dr. Mark Pogrebin, whose guidance
and support were invaluable. His incisive comments on qualitative work helped to make
this study what it is. My appreciation also goes to my committee members: Dr. Robert
Clifton, a long-time colleague and true friend; Dr. Linda DeLeon, a source of
encouragement and positive criticism; Dr. John Nicoletti, the eminent police psychologist;
and Dr. Eric Poole, a notable criminal justice researcher. My thanks also goes to the staff
at the Graduate School of Public Affairs at the University of Colorado, particularly my
student representative Antoinette Sandoval, for their competence, patience, and help.
I also would like to acknowledge the police chiefs who graciously participated in this
study. Without the willingness to tell their stories, this research could not have been
done. Their sacrifices allowed this work to be accomplished. I appreciate their
participation as well as the difficult and noble jobs that they have done as police chiefs.
My deep appreciation goes as well to Susan Lynn Szymanski for her support
steadfastness, excellent computer help, and editing assistance.
Statement of the Problem of Police-Chief Turnover..................3
Police Administration and the Role of the Chief of Police..........7
Significance of this Study........................................12
Significance to Police Organizations and Communities.......13
Significance to Public Administration and Leadership.......15
II. REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE..............................................20
Overview of Literature Review.....................................20
Related Sources Discovered........................................23
Factors in Police-Chief Turnover Drawn from the Literature........27
Summary of the Review of the Literature...........................29
Conceptual Framework of the Study.................................30
Specifics of the Study............................................32
Research Procedures and Participants..............................37
Research Question and Interview Questions.........................41
Analysis of Data..................................................42
IV. FINDINGS: OCCUPATIONAL LIFE HISTORIES.................................46
Overview of Results and Occupational Life Histories...............46
Police Chief Subject #1: Chief A..................................48
City and Agency Background and Factual Information.........48
Background and Factual Information Regarding Chief A.......48
Reasons and Factors in Chief A Leaving the Position..............49
Leadership Lessons from Chief A..................................51
Triangulation of Data............................................52
Police Chief Subject #2: Chief B.........................................54
City and Agency Background and Factual Information...............54
Background and Factual Information Regarding Chief B.............54
Reasons and Factors in Leaving the Position......................55
Leadership Lessons from Chief B..................................57
Triangulation of the Data........................................57
Police Chief Subject #3: Chief C.........................................60
City and Agency Background and Factual Information...............60
Background and Factual Information Regarding Chief C.............60
Reasons and Factors in Leaving the Position......................62
Leadership Lessons from Chief C..................................64
Triangulation of the Data........................................64
Police Chief Subject #4: Chief D.........................................67
City and Agency Background and Factual Information...............67
Background and Factual Information Regarding Chief D.............67
Reasons or Factors in Leaving the Position.......................68
Leadership Lessons from Chief D..................................69
Triangulation of the Data........................................70
Police Chief Subject #5: Chief E.........................................73
City and Agency Background and Factual Information...............73
Background and Factual Information Regarding Chief E.............73
Reasons and Factors in Leaving the Position......................74
Leadership Lessons from Chief E..................................75
Triangulation of the Data........................................75
Police Chief Subject #6: Chief F.........................................78
City and Agency Background and Factual Information...............78
Background and Factual Information Regarding Chief F.............78
Reasons and Factors in Leaving the Position......................80
Leadership Lessons from Chief F..................................82
Triangulation of the Data........................................83
Police Chief Subject #7: Chief G.......................................86
City and Agency Background and Factual Information.............86
Background and Factual Information Regarding Chief G...........86
Reasons and Factors in Leaving the Position....................88
Leadership Lessons from Chief G................................90
Triangulation of the Data.......................................90
Police Chief Subject #8: Chief H.......................................93
City and Agency Background and Factual Information.............93
Background and Factual Information Regarding Chief H...........93
Reasons and Factors in Leaving the Position....................94
Leadership Lessons from Chief H.................................98
Triangulation of the Data.......................................98
Police Chief Subject #9: Chief 1.......................................102
City and Agency Background and Factual Information.............102
Background and Factual Information Regarding Chief 1...........103
Reasons and Factors in Leaving the Position....................104
Leadership Lessons from Chief 1................................105
Triangulation of the Data......................................106
Police Chief Subject #10: Chief J......................................109
City and Agency Background and Factual Information.............109
Background and Factual Information Regarding Chief J...........109
Reasons and Factors in Leaving the Position....................110
Leadership Lessons from Chief J................................107
Triangulation of the Data......................................108
V. DATA ANALYSIS AND PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION IMPLICATIONS........................112
Factors in Police-Chief Turnover Drawn from the Literature.............114
Factual and Informational Findings.....................................118
Tenure and Turnover............................................122
Major Reasons and Factors in Police Chief Turnover.....................126
Dealing with "Personnel Issues"...............................128
Lack of Support and Frustration Concerning City Officials.....129
Accepting Another Position....................................132
Implications for Public Administration................................134
Health Examinations as a Part of Recruitment and Selection....134
Better Realization of the Reality of Being a Police Chief.....136
Suggestions for Future Research...............................137
A. Human Research Committee Consent Form............144
4.1 Significant Facts and Features of Chief As Occupational Life History..53
4.2 Significant Facts and Features of Chief B's Occupational Life History..59
4.3 Significant Facts and Features of Chief C's Occupational Life History..66
4.4 Significant Facts and Features of Chief D's Occupational Life History..72
4.5 Significant Facts and Features of Chief E's Occupational Life History..77
4.6 Significant Facts and Features of Chief Fs Occupational Life History..85
4.7 Significant Facts and Features of Chief G's Occupational Life History..92
4.8 Significant Facts and Features of Chief H's Occupational Life History.101
4.9 Significant Facts and Features of Chief I's Occupational Life History.108
4.10 Significant Facts and Features of Chief J's Occupational Life History.116
5.1 Themes Found in Reasons and Factors for Leaving..............122
5.2 Mean Age.....................................................125
5.3 Median Age...................................................125
5.4 Mean Number of Years of Police Chief Tenure..................128
5.5 Profiles of Occupational Life Histories......................130
It seems that few occupations or vocations generate more public interest than that of
policing. The job of the modem police chief is not only fascinating but also very visible.
Support for this observation may be found in any daily American newspaper or television
program guide. Although the police in todays society must deal with public safety
(Muir,1977), the police also must be aware of the larger whole of society and be willing to
participate in community initiatives and root-cause problem solving (Peak & Glensor.1996).
From this perspective, the police chiefs job is exceedingly complex. Indeed, it would be a
fundamental misunderstanding of what the police do to evaluate them as just another
municipal agency delivering services (Brown,1981).
The job of the chief of police in the United States offers perhaps even more visibility and
volatility than that of many public-sector positions. A quick scan of the daily news may give
one the impression that being a police chief is not a secure profession, and that one ought
not embark upon the police-chief career without a high tolerance for job ambiguity and the
possibility of an undesired termination. The public information office of the International
Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) in 1997 estimated that the average tenure for major
city police chiefs in the United States is 2.5 years. A number remembered by many chief
executives since the last decade is that the average tenure for big-city chiefs is 2.8 years
(Geller,1985). In a recent article published in the January 1998 edition of Subject to Debate,
the newsletter of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), some interesting and
revealing new data are published. According to data discovered in 1997, for police-chief
executives in jurisdictions of more than 500,000 population in the United States, the average
tenure was 4.93 years; yet 73% of police chiefs have no employment contract or agreement.
According to the same article, half of police chiefs' predecessors served only 5 years or less
in their positions, and half of current police chiefs plan to stay in their positions for 5 years or
less. For much smaller cities, it is very possible that the average tenure rates are even less.
In the state of Colorado, the area of concern for this study, no firm number is published, but
a reading of the 1997/1998 Membership Directory of the Colorado Association of Chiefs of
Police (CACP) reveals that at least 40 police chiefs of local agencies have been replaced in
the state of Colorado in just the last 2 years.
While informal data on police-chief turnover is easy to obtain, causal data on the factors
that lead to resignation or separation are not. As with city managers, the average police-
chief tenure is discussed in public administration circles as being dangerously short, but
there is scant mention in the literature of exactly why this is so. Conventional wisdom and
some theory seem to say that political pressure or internal dissatisfaction tends to rid public
organizations of executives; yet, as will be discussed, articulated reasons for the departure of
police chiefs in the state of Colorado have not been fully discovered or demonstrated.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, there are 18,769 police agencies in the
United States, a unique feature as compared to the relatively homogeneous national policing
systems of some countries such as Britain, Japan, or even Canada (Reaves & Goldberg,
1998). The sheer enormity of the number of agencies, coupled with the vastness of
American geography, makes a check with departing police chiefs in the country a formidable
task. Therefore, the scope of this exploratory study focuses on the reasons for police chiefs
leaving their positions in the state of Colorado. Based on the findings regarding police-chief
departures in Colorado, appropriate implications for both policing and public administration
Statement of the Problem of Police-Chief Turnover
Newspaper reporter R. Willing announces in the March 11,1997, USA Today newspaper
that Police Chiefs Under FireHigh Turnover Now Comes With the Job and proceeds in the
article to relate the stories of New York Police Commissioner William Bratton and Los
Angeles Police Chief Willie Williams, both of whom experienced the loss of security in their
appointments as chiefs in major cities. Political entities acted to remove both chiefs within a
short time frame that may surprise the average community member but probably not the
average police chief. The article notes that Cleveland, Houston, and Washington, DC,
together have gone through ten chiefs, and Commissioner Bratton goes on to say that a
professional football coach is about the right comparison to the job of a police chief.
Precisely one year before, in a March 29,1996, article in the Christian Science Monitor
Gaouette (1996) reported that the Pink Slip is Common Peril for Big-City Police Chiefs. In
the article Hubert Williams, the executive director of The Police Foundation, notes that
police-chief turnover has always been high ... particularly in the last decade (p. 3). The
stories of NYPDs William Bratton and LAPDs Willie Williams are found again in that article.
The executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), Dr. Chuck
Wexler, writes about this very topic in the association's newsletter, Subject to Debate, in the
January 1995 issue. Wexler (1995) says that police chiefs pay an enormous price, both
professionally and personally, for the kind of life they live, that the police chiefs job can
often be a lonely one," and that the chiefs pressures not only alienate them ... but can
create personal problems as well" (p 2). What is worse, Wexler notes, is that new chiefs
will tell you that after a brief honeymoon with their organization, the pressures of the job
become unrelenting and that very little, however, is done at the executive level to help
chiefs cope with unprecedented pressures that manifest themselves in various ways" (p. 2).
As the executive director of PERF, Wexler spends much of his time with police chiefs.
His observations get at what he sees and notices and what many chiefs feel at the gut
level,* that the job of the modem police chief is tenuous, stressful, exhausting, and political.
It seems as if there should be little wonder that police chiefs come and go often. Internal
organizational stress and pressure, coupled with external, community, and political demands,
would be a recipe for short tenure and perhaps incidences of pure disaster. Peak and
Glensor (1996) support these thoughts with facts by noting that 12 of 15 of the largest police
departments in the United States experienced turnover from 1991 to 1993 and that the
tenure of a metropolitan police chief has fallen from 5.5 years to somewhere between 3.5 to
One does not need to be a chief of police in a major city, however, to experience the
pressures and job losses. This study explores the police-chief turnover situation in Colorado
and looks at the issue during recent years, revealing a situation much the same as in
national major cities. A front-page article in the October 3,1996, issue of The Denver Post
trumpets that Lochbuie fires its chief of police-Council votes 6-0 to dismiss official.
Lochbuie, a small town of 1,500 residents in an agricultural county, experiences police-chief
turnover on the grounds of insubordination and incompetence (Gamaas,1996, p. B3).
The January 22,1996, edition of The Coloradoan newspaper in Fort Collins, Colorado, ran
a front-page story in the local section with the headline, Police chiefs firing spurs rift in
small town. Although the article notes that the chief in a neighboring small town is a likable
person and that the issue isn't about his personality or character, according to the mayor,
he is fired nonetheless for a question of diligence" (Baun, 1996, p. B1).
A look at the news media regarding this issue in medium-sized Colorado cities also
provides more examples. The city of Grand Junction, the largest city in western Colorado,
lost its police chief when, according to the October 10,1996, edition of The Denver Post, the
chief was ousted in the wake of his recent drunk driving arrest (Miller, 1996, p. B1). On the
same matter, the November 15,1996, edition of the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel notes that
the local peace officers association filed a grievance against the chief early in November
1996, citing inequities in his discipline" (Wizda, 1996, p. A5).
In the October 17,1996, edition of the Rocky Mountain News, the recently retired chief of
police for the city of Littleton, a Denver suburb, faced a headline titled Littleton ex-chief calls
report mean-spirited-former top cop blasts gender bias finding as unfair indictment." The
chief apparently retired in the face of a report prepared by an outside consultant, a lawyer
from another city, hired to investigate alleged biases in the department. The article goes on
to note that the chief acknowledged that he received a written reprimand after the city
manager learned the results of the probe"; yet the chief insisted that the report had nothing
to do with his decision to retire (Duran, 1996, p. A32).
Given the examples on these pages thus far, a case could be made that the possibility of
the loss of a police-chief position can occur anywhere, at any time, and for reasons not
always foreseen. On the other hand, a studied view of many situations could cause the
astute observer to predict which situations might lead to turnover. All of this is to say chief-
of-police turnover is so frequent and common that it would be beneficial for public
administrators to make determinations about the causes and costs of police-chief turnover.
In the city of Boulder the murder of a young girl remained unsolved for just two months;
yet the media challenged both the district attorney and the chief of police on both personal
and professional levels. In an article published in the February 9,1997, Denver Post, the
same chief is portrayed as in a no-win situation as Boulder's chief of police (McPhee, 1997,
p. B4). These types of comments would seem to have little or no relation to the policing and
investigative task at hand; yet perhaps they do make an impression on the public at large as
well as members of the Boulder community regarding their police department and their
police chief. In the fall of 1997, according to the November 21,1997, edition of The Denver
Post the Boulder police chief announced his retirement (Green, 1997).
In Denver, the only true 'major city' in the state of Colorado, the chief of police has
announced his retirement after just over 5 years as chief. In fact, Denver has gone through
four police chiefs in the last 10 years (CACP.1997). In the January 13,1997, edition of the
Rocky Mountain News, a headline announced that the Denver chief eyes retirement and
mentions that his position continues to be a challenge (Ensslin, 1997, p. A5). Although
retirement would seem to be a much more pleasant way to leave a police-chief position, it
nonetheless remains a factor in turnover and a particularly important one if the tenure is
relatively brief before retirement. This example and the ones already illustrated demonstrate
the various and very different situations that can potentially lead to police-chief turnover.
What is the relevance of these many, many media accounts and news stories about
police chiefs? These are the types of situations that are publicly transmitted to us about how
our police leaders lose their positions. The situations in many senses are very different from
one another; yet, on the other hand, they have some emerging and striking similarities. Most
of the situations unearthed from media accounts seem to have the elements of stress,
politics, misperception, and combinations of circumstances. However, media accounts and
news stories cannot give valid information about the exact causes of police-chief turnover
generally; they can only relate some information about each individual episode of police-
chief turnover. That is, the stories may rarely get at the individual profiles, qualifications,
and credentials-the occupational life histories-of each chief. Indeed, many times the real
reasons for the departure of the chief are vague and not shared and, therefore, not generally
known. Reasons, such as diligence, incompetence, insubordination, and inequities in
discipline, do not lend themselves to specificity, nor do they fully explain all of the dynamics
and transactions leading to the departure of a police chief or the conversations held behind
closed doors in executive sessions.
There remains the notion that turnover in executive public-administration positions, such
as police chief, can be expensive, individually painful, unsettling to the community, and
harmful to the public image of the organization. While we have numerous public accounts of
chiefs of police losing their positions in the state of Colorado alone and high numbers and
percentages of turnover in the state in the last 5 years (CACP.1997), it appears we do not
have a true understanding about why this happens. Indeed, this may well be the problem:
We read about the great numbers of police chiefs separating from their positions, but it is
only on the surface that we are told why this might be.
While the issue is complex, the statement of the problem includes the organization
disruption potentially caused by changing police-chief executives, expense and lost time
absorbed by the city involved, and the lack of attention to the policymaking group's political
agenda during the absence of the departing police chief (Kingdon, 1995; Peters,1993). Also
important is the weakening of the police organization's focus and direction during interim
Police Administration and the Role of the Chief of Police
On a March 13,1997, cable-television program, Cochran and Grace (Cochran, 1997),
the former Los Angeles Police Department police chief, Darryl Gates, told his interviewers he
believed it was unfortunate that police chiefs are in politics all across the country." Chiefs of
police are trying to understand the politics vs. administration dichotomy as noted by
Woodrow Wilson in 1887 (Denhardt, 1993). They are trying also to understand the notion
that police administration existing outside the sphere of politics is becoming more and more
difficult to realize in the modem world of policing.
While the police were traditionally seen as those who merely enforced the law and
provided order and maintenance to society, there is no question that the problems now faced
by the police are structural and deep (Sparrow, Moore, & Kennedy,1990; Stamper,1992).
Aging infrastructure, burgeoning youth crime, continuing ethnic struggles, and the extreme or
rapid growth of some communities and the population decline of others are the types of
things that seem to contribute to the growing complexity of policing. Meanwhile, the average
community member may imagine the police as those who vigorously fight crime, quickly
answer calls for service, and investigate crimes after they happen. However, in a 1982
Atlantic Monthly article entitled Broken Windows two police behavior scholars, James Q.
Wilson and George L. Kelling, framed a compelling argument that seriously challenged the
traditional notion of what the police do and are all about. That is, police departments which
focus primarily on crime control and investigation, as most have done and may still do,
cannot ultimately be much help to communities struggling with modem issues and simply
trying to keep in front of a myriad of new problems (Wilson & Kelling, 1982).
This realization, that part of the mission of policing is to establish and foster community
partnerships and help solve problems at the root cause level, ushered in a new era of
policing and enormously increased the complexity and functions of the police. In the modem
age the police chief is still responsible for order and maintenance but now also is required to
shape and structure organizations that can solve problems and deliver quality customer
service (Sparrow et al.,1990). This results in a situation where police chiefs are required to
do things consistently that have not been done before in policing (Peak & Glensor,1996).
This is a complex and demanding position for any public administrator to be in and
challenges police officers to change as well as communities to adapt and engage
themselves with the police. As posited in the August 2,1993, edition of U.S. News and
World Report, risk takers and boat rockers within a culture where daily exposure to life-and-
death situations make officers natural conservators of the status quo (Tharp &
Friedman,1993). From this perspective, changing the status quo usually is left to the police
chief and the key leaders within the chiefs department. Indeed, chief executives who are
interested in getting the police into the community and working together with the
neighborhoods to attack the root causes of crime face new and serious challenges. Most
likely, not all of these chiefs will survive and remain in their positions, because according to
Peak and Glensor (1996), This is not always an easy undertaking. In fact, although today's
chiefs tend to be better educated and more open to new concepts than their predecessors,
their reform-minded ideas do not always succeed. Sometimes their careers are jeopardized"
(p. 153). This is not to say that only the innovative administrators have challenges or are in
jeopardy of losing their positions.
Wilson (1968) notes organizations to which society gives tasks that cannot be performed
to the satisfaction of society suffer not only certain frustrations but also some fundamental
administrative problems. He says that the criticisms directed at the police are well known
and often sound but that the conditions giving rise to these criticisms are frequently not well
understood by the critic-that critic being the community or society as a whole.
Even assuming that the concepts of community partnership and problem solving are
integrated into some police organizations and used by their police officers, and that modem
police organizations have evolved past the order maintenance institutions of the past reform
era (Sparrow et al.,1990), because police officers are human beings (so far!), chief
executives must still be concerned with discipline and corruption. This concern must be
Pogrebin and Regoli (1986) point out that police agencies are the most criticized in the
public sector and also say that the police themselves are not sure of what their
responsibilities are. In another work, Pogrebin and Atkins (1986) note in an article titled
Some Perspectives on Corruption:
Police administrators realistically admit that they are unable to eradicate all police
corruption. Their real concern is maintaining a low degree of corruption in their
departments. The predicament for police executives is awesome. They become almost
powerless in controlling the deviance within their lines of command, (p. 312)
Exacerbating this issue is the problem of tenure for the chief who provides ethical
guidelines or actually fights corruption. Could dealing with corruption be an avenue of exit
for a police administrator? Certainly. The importance of this aspect is well described by
Goldstein (1977), who stated that few efforts to control corruption have succeeded without
some guarantee of tenure for the top man. According to Goldstein, if the police chiefs
stance on corruption is critical, it obviously follows that he or she must speak from a position
of strength, and the chiefs strength is heavily influenced by the degree of job security he or
As we have seen, tenure is an issue which diminishes long-term efforts at lasting values
and ethics clarification. Therefore, one must add discipline and corrective action to the list of
responsibilities of the chief of police. These things are a part of the setting of values so
important to any modem public organization. Indeed, as the Knapp Commission noted in a
1973 report, "We believe that, given proper leadership and support, many police who have
slipped into corruption would exchange their illicit income for the satisfaction of belonging to
a corruption-free department in which they could take genuine pride" (Platt & Cooper, 1974,
Even in the police organizations of old, it was tough for the police executive to administer
the ethics of the organization. Nonetheless, as Brown (1981) points out, the beliefs and,
hence, the decisions, of police officers are shaped by the administrative style of the chief of
police. The extreme argument of some might be that police departments are at best a
necessary evil filled with inept or intolerant people exploiting the fact that they are necessary
and that the solution to the problem of abuse is to put the police under the strictest and
closest control (Manning & Van Maanen,1978). All of this is an extreme challenge for the
police, especially in the media fishbowl" of modem society. As Black (1980) has put it,
Police work is arguably the most visible species of legal life, it touches the most people, and
it is probably the most controversial" (p. 1).
Given the enormous complexity as well as the multiplicity of concerns and responsibilities
of todays chief of police, there probably should be no surprise that there is tremendous
turnover in the position. The role of the police chief really is one of a public administrator
who is impinged by politics (Geller,1985). Other jobs in local public administration, such as
city manager and school superintendent, seem to experience relatively short tenures as well.
There is the consideration that police-chief turnover is a positive feature of the
profession- that turnover among police chiefs is actually a good thing. One may
contemplate that a refreshing change in an organization which has experienced stagnant
leadership for long periods of time is liberating and motivating for the organization
concerned. Indeed, logic would seem to say that organizations at times need new leaders
and that these new leaders can help the organization face its times of change and leadership
challenges (Bridges, 1991; Kouzes & Posner, 1995; Nadler, Shaw, & Walton,1995). Fora
police organization to rid itself of incompetent, corrupt, or ineffective leadership would
certainly seem positive, and certainly, it seems plausible that there have been cases where a
departing police chief has been cause for some degree of celebration by the organization.
However, the amount and degree of turnover among police chiefs seem worthy of concern
and scrutiny. Some consistency in leadership from a policy perspective has been
demonstrated to be of concern as responsibility for policy and administration is shared by the
manager and the policymakers (Svara, 1990). Organization direction and policy initiation
weigh heavily on leadership as organization executives do help in setting policy and the
implementation of that policy (Kingdon, 1995; Koven, Shelley, & Swanson, 1998; Peters,
Nonetheless, todays police administration is an art and science that demands quality
credentials; solid experience and qualifications; advanced education; and community,
organizational, personal, and political skills. As has been discussed, community demands
are high, and policing is changing. The modem chief executive must maintain order and law
enforcement, preserve and model ethics and values, create a high-performance organization
that can provide high-quality services and help the community solve problems, and provide
leadership to the men and women who do a difficult job-no short order!
While it may be precisely these police-administrative considerations that cause short
tenures and recurrent police-chief turnover, it seems there is not overwhelming evidence to
support such a view. In the state of Colorado, it appears that this has not yet been
discovered or proven.
Significance of this Study
A case could be made that a constant rotation of police chiefs through our police
agencies in this country is not good for public administration or policing as a part of public
administration. As noted earlier by Wexler (1994), if some reasons for the high degree of
turnover among police chiefs are not clearly identified and, therefore, able to be examined,
there are a number of costs to the individuals and organizations involved and communities
being served. While stagnation and overly long tenures may not be any more desirable, it
seems that a balance must be struck in the turnover situation so that healthy movement to
and from positions is achieved rather than the untimely and crisis replacement of police
This study is significant due to its ability to speak to the source. The researcher spoke to
people who have actually held police-chief positions and at some point left them. As an
additional benefit of these police-chief occupational case studies, the study presents the
actual tenures of Colorado police chiefs rather than relying on national statistics alone. This
is of value to the public administrators in that state, such as city managers, who make police-
chief recruitment and selection decisions and deal with the separation ramifications of
departing police chiefs and other public executives. Indeed, the implications from this study
enhance the overall ability to apply turnover factors to other highly volatile public positions.
Significance to Police Organizations and Communities
As has been discussed, the police organization and, therefore, the chief executives of
those organizations have an incredibly diverse and challenging set of duties and
responsibilities. The police leader, largely without a contract (Greenburg,1992), and,
therefore, job security and a position of strength, must successfully meet the demands of
community members, politicians, members of the organization, unions and police
associations, interest groups, and his or her own executive staff members. As early as the
1980s, Bittner (1984) observed that a dramatic change has occurred between police
executives and the public by saying:
The police institution was hermetically sealed and not responsive to outside influence, but
today management has opened somewhat to outside pressure and is far more responsive
to the demands of those segments of the community who in the past received no
recognition at all. (p. 208)
At the same time Allen Andrews points out there is strong evidence of a widely and
firmly held belief among city officials (mayors and city managers) that the police are
excessively independent of city hall and that any serious discussion of the bounds between
political and police chief executives in the administration of the policing function must take
account of this phenomenon of police autonomy from civic government (Geller,1985, p. 7).
Perhaps this is another one of the rubs impacting police-chief tenure: In an age of the
expectation of community and employee involvement, the police chief is still seen as
disconnected from the political and administrative whole and thus perhaps too autonomous,
politically visible, and powerful. This certainly has been the case with William Bratton in
New York, Darryl Gates in Los Angeles, and Philip Arreola in Milwaukee, according to
Exacerbating the perceptual and political issues for the police chief is simply the notion of
multiple and concurrent demands and the changing role of the chief in the modem age.
Herman Goldstein (cited in Greenburg,1992) reminds us that the police field has received
more serious attention in the past three decades than in ail the previous years of organized
police service. This attention has resulted in many advances. Among these may be an
increased openness within the field-a greater willingness to critique police work, support
research, experiment, and consider new proposals for change. This thought of Goldstein's
would seem to inform the practice of public administration that a new tyoe of police chief is
necessary now and as we move into the future. It also seems clear that if the right
candidates are not found and selected, then the potential for continuing failures in police
executives careers will remain.
As Sparrow et al. (1990) put it.
Insightful police chiefs are beginning to understand that their job is shifting from the
caretaking role the field is accustomed to, with its emphasis of stewardship and
efficiency, to the much different and challenging task of introducing cultural, managerial,
and operational innovations ... the environmental pressures on police departments are
numerous, powerful, and shifting, (p. 197)
This exploratory study examines whether or not the chief executive was separated from
his or her position due to a failure to adapt to organization and community changes or
moved on to better opportunities due to great success in instituting and leading change. The
implications for public administration are immense given the need for innovative leaders to
carry on with the demands that have been discussed in this chapter. As Sparrow et al.
(1990) aptly note,
Police executives are beginning to face a barrage of questions, previously unasked or
unacknowledged, about the effectiveness of their current strategies. Change is coming.
and promoting and managing it is going to be one of the main jobs facing police chiefs
and departments, (p. 198)
This was noted over two decades ago by More (1972), who wrote The police officer is
increasingly expected to exercise independent judgment, discretion, sociological and
psychological skills in coping with some of the most complex social problems of our times"
(p. 196). These authors illustrate the need for the police to deal with change and increase
skills. The police chief is the one who must then lead change, oversee the procurement of
enhanced skills, and demand the continuing professionalism of the police.
Significance to Public Administration and Leadership
Mosher (1976) reminds us that public administration grew out of public concern about
public corruption and scandal. It started in the cities where most government was located,
where the action was, and where services of public administrators could be made more
efficient, more honest, and less costly.
Rainey (1991) asserts that public management connotes active, effective management
of government organizations, as opposed to preoccupation with politics or acceptance of a
caretaker administrative role" (p. 7). It is within the context of public management and public
administration that we must contemplate the significance of the turnover of public executives
in general and police chiefs in particular.
An obvious place to start a discussion about why a study on police-chief turnover has
significance to public administration is cost. To speak only of the financial costs would not
be thinking from a systems perspective (Senge,1990), because the loss of a chief executive
would seem to have an impact on the leadership/management team, the organization as a
whole, and the community.
Also from a systems perspective, the human resource professional of the organization
would be required to create or select a valid means of recruitment and selection every time
the chief executive needs to be replaced (Klingner & Nalbandian.1993). Not only is this
disruptive but it is also expensive. Almost two decades ago, Whisenand and Tielsch (1981)
discussed the costs of an assessment center," a process widely used to promote police
professionals and select police chiefs, and found that the cost of the process itself, in 1976
dollars, was $5,000 for every 12 candidates. In todays dollars, the costs of a selection
process may well exceed $30,000 if one includes travel, meals, hotels, consultant costs, and
soft-dollar staff costs.
The costs of police-chief turnover to the police organization are significant also. While it
is true that many police organizations might do well to receive a new police chief and start
with new ideas, modem police initiatives instituted by the former police chief might be
dismantled or fragmented due to a change in leadership. Progressive initiatives, such as
those involving ethics, problem solving, and community partnership, are greatly dependent
upon police-chief leadership (Geller, 1985; Goldstein, 1977; Peak & Glensor,1996; Sparrow
et al.. 1990) In addition, when organizational change occurs, people in that organization
need time to deal with the norms and processes of the prior organization and leadership as
well as time to work through the neutral zone of transition (Bridges,1991). Some of this
type of reinvigoration due to leadership change is undoubtedly good, but one can argue that
frequent change in leadership could result in ambiguous values, mission, and programs as
well as disruption, confusion, and disenfranchisement.
The leadership factor is an imposing one in the discussion of change in public agencies
due to the challenges that lie ahead. As Gortner, Mahler, and Nicholson (1989) note,
Fulfilling a leadership role in the public sector is often a doubly difficult job due to the factors
from the political environment that must be added to the calculation (p. 293). Perhaps no
public administrator with any presence of mind would expect that public organization
executives will have an easier time of it in coming years and decades. Some time ago,
Bolman and Deal (1987) observed, No leader of wisdom and virtue would ever accept a
sinecure or caretaker position (p. 294). One may wonder, for some police chiefs who have
left their positions, if they perhaps expected that being a police chief would be a secure,
caretaking type of position, precisely because of an outdated notion of public administration
as well as misperceptions about public-sector executive positions. Bolman and Deal (1987)
go on to say, "There is something about both management and leadership that continues to
make those acts more complex, turbulent, demanding, and draining today and tomorrow
than they were the month, year, or decade before (p. 294). Is this instructive? Perhaps so;
it is believed that better knowledge about why police chiefs leave their positions greatly aids
public administrators in preparing for the future of the organization and the chief executive's
Senge (1990) believes that nothing undermines openness more surely than certainty. He
posits that once we feel we have the answer, all motivation to question our thinking
disappears. With the changing environments of police organizations, could it be that many
chiefs operated with what they thought to be the old "paradigm" of policing? David Couper,
former and long-term chief of police in Madison, Wisconsin, points out in his book's
discussion on quality policing:
The authoritarian model of police leadership is a very attractive one. It has order,
simplicity, and predictability. The problem with this style of leadership, and the
organization that surrounds it, is that it neglects everything we know about people and
their behavior" (Couper & Lobitz, 1991, p. 7).
Again, from the leadership perspective, it is important to explore whether chiefs have lost
their positions over time not only due to a dated notion of policing but also an old model of
leadership. Indeed, the opposite at times may be true. Innovative leaders threaten the
traditional political structure or stodgy police organization. It is possible that the members of
the organization were ready for progressive leadership but that the members of the
community were not properly prepared.
Covey (1990) observes that perhaps, departing chiefs, as leaders, did not first seek first
to understand, then to be understood. Did they realize, as Kanter (1983) does, that leaders,
if they are willing, will find that employees themselves more often than not know what needs
to be done to improve operations? Can police-chief public administrators, once that more is
known about why other chiefs have left their jobs, realize if learning organizations
(Senge,1990) are to develop, it will be dependent not only on the ability of their members to
leam but also on the leaders ability to humble themselves enough to learn? Flood (1993)
makes the same point by noting that not only can members of the organization leam from
their leaders but also that leaders can leam from those in the organization.
As a result of these occupational case studies, public administrators have an opportunity
to leam that strong leaders are comfortable making mistakes and building learning
organizations (Rosen,1996). Through this study, public administrators have a good chance
to realize more about police organizations as learning organizations. Police leaders of the
future can recognize learning police organizations as ones that continuously adapt to a
changing and interdependent environment (Koffman & Senge,1993).
Drucker (1993) tells us that organizations, whether they be businesses, schools, or
governments, must leam not only to deal with change but also to thrive on change. He
reminds us that the twenty-first century will surely be one of continuing social, economic, and
political turmoil and challenge, at least in its early decades. Changing organizations will
require leaders who can free organizations of old and outdated customs (O'Toole,1995) and
teach their organizations about the journey to the future (Bolman & Deal, 1995). If these
things are true, this study helps public administrators determine the types of people who now
need to be recruited and who will need to be selected as chiefs of police. Some of that
knowledge is based on determining the types of people who had to leave their posts due to
lack of skills in dealing with current changing organizations and organizations of the future.
Johnson (1992) and Blanchard and Hersey (1993), among others, believe that the most
effective executives, including those in the public sector, are those who can use a variety of
skills and traits in understanding varying situations.
What about our police organizations? The implications from this study loom large. The case
studies of police chiefs who have left their positions examine, through the use of interviews
and documentation, the types of organizations to which these chiefs provided leadership.
Perhaps we will leam that, even in the public sector, leaders for the future will actually need
to provide for and endorse prescriptions for change (Bridges,1991; Hesselbein, Goldsmith, &
Beckard,1996). It will be a serious shortcoming if leaders do not inspire members of the
organization to see the world in new ways. Police leaders must help members of their
organizations move past systems that only validate old beliefs and lead them to new, viable,
and meaningful alternatives (Silverman, 1996). This study explores factors that cause short
tenures for police executives and also discovers organizational and leadership applications
for police agencies of the future.
REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE
Overview of Literature Review
A literature review reveals that specific literature about the reasons for chief-of-police
turnover is scarce, while the literature on the police in general is plentiful. This view is
supported by Hunt and Magenau (1993), who simply state that "not much is known about
police chiefs" (p. 3). Indeed, a variety of information about the police is available from early
in this century, when authors wrote about the duties of the police and the importance of
command and control, to the modem era of the 1990s community policing. There also is
copious literature about what factors affect the careers of police officers generally such as
health, stress, and burnout but not a commensurate amount of sources regarding the careers
of police chiefs as a unique part of policing. Scanning the literature on police chiefs since
1900, Lewis Mayo, a training director at the National Institute of Justice, found only five full-
length books on chiefs of police, one of those his own 1983 doctoral dissertation. While the
volume and pace of publishing about police executives is increasing, when compared with
the "volume of research on line police officers, the literature on chiefs remains minuscule"
(Mayo, 1985, p. 398).
Numerous sources are available about police leadership, organizations, culture,
personnel, and oversight. Nonetheless, articles, books, or other sources about the departure
of police chiefs are not highly visible in the literature, and indeed, many of those sources are
cited in this work.
Very early on in the modem history of literature on the police, in fact at mid-century,
Wilson (1950) described the functions of the police chief to include the approval of plans and
inspection of people and also described many police-organization processes as factors of
control. Wilson also defines the role of the chief as having to do with recruitment and
selection, training, and the controls of policy formulation, procedures, and programs.
Although these items still comprise some of the functions of a modem chief, Wilson's piece
in his earlier writing does not directly address why or how a chief moves on or leaves the
Indeed, Wilson (1968) believed that the major function of the police was maintaining
order, a dilemma of police administration to which the police chief must direct his or her
administrative focus. Wilson does not address whether the failure to maintain order by the
police chief contributes to police-chief turnover or an individual loss of the police chiefs job.
Potts (1983) did address the importance of the chief providing institutional leadership
through a mission orientation but does not speak about police-chief tenure or turnover.
Gaines and Ricks (1978) wrote about the police leader of today, one who should deliver the
product to his community by meeting challenges in open, honest confrontation" (p. 259).
These authors do not go on to address what happens if this style of confrontation" does not
work or if this type of presentation may be costly to the chiefs job retention.
Boye (cited in Schultz, 1979) treats the political considerations of leadership in a police
department but in that work does not describe how those considerations might cost the
leader his or her job. In fact, Boye goes so far as to say that the selection process of the
chief can have a significant effect upon the type of leadership exercised. If the selection is
made for political reasons, Boye believes the chief is apt to be manipulated like a puppet on
strings. Boye stops short of discussing how the chief might lose his or her tenure or job due
to these factors.
Vanagunas and Elliott (1980) support Wilson's earlier work by stating that the police
organization is headed by a chief executive whose office includes certain staff functions such
as selection and training, fiscal control, research and planning, public information, and
community relations. These authors, however, do not say anything about police-chief
turnover or loss of jobs if chiefs cannot do well at these staff functions. Fielding (1995)
augments this discussion in a more recent writing by pointing out that the chiefs set the
policy of the station as much by manner and style as by formal pronouncements. However,
Fielding does not move on to what might happen to the career of the chief superintendent if
policy is not acceptable. Champion and Rush (1997) address part of the issues examined in
the interview process of this study by pointing out that most police chiefs in the United States
started out in patrol and ascended through the ranks to chief. Kelly (1975) also explores
police-chief selection processes. However, they do not link these dynamics to career
survival, job tenure, or turnover.
There is also a history of publications on police organizations, which gives a context for
the police chiefs situation such as the dynamics of police revitalization or upgrading
(Caiden, 1977; Saunders,1970), police systems (Fosdick,1969; Smith,1960), and police
administration (Fuld,1971; ICMA, 1954; More,1975, Wilson,1950). These works, through the
dynamics and terms just listed, provide systemic contexts for chiefs as parts of organizations
rather than work on the actual careers and tenures of police chiefs in police organizations.
In addition, a historical treatment of police management and behavior also is evident such as
Leonards (1971) discussion of police management as well as similar treatments on police
organizations through Roberg (1979), Whisenand and Ferguson (1972), Cizankas and Hanna
(1977), and Davis (1978). Wilsons (1970) and Aheams (1982) discussion of police behavior
is found also in the literature, but it does not specifically concern police chiefs. More dated
versions of police-executive discussions are found in police literary history as well.
Examples are Germanns (1962) and Carter, Sapp, and Stephens (1989) treatment of
police-executive development, Goldsteins (1977) discussion of the police in America,
Murphy and Plates (1977) work on the police commissioner, Grosmans analysis (1975) of
police command, and Mayo's (1983) doctoral dissertation on the role of the police-chief
More recent examples of the field of police literature which are on the periphery of police-
chief challenges are Goolkasian, Geddes, and Dejongs (1985) and Ayres (1990) work on
police stress, Skolnick and Bayley's (1986) collection of works on police innovation, and
Tonry and Morriss (1992) work on modem policing. In addition, the treatment of some
modem police organizational issues is found in Sparrow et al.s (1990) treatment of policings
new era and Shanahans (1995) explanation of policings paradigm shift.
In searching the literature for publications regarding turnover among police executives, a
number of approaches were used. Among these were the search for relevant literature
under titles such as executive turnover, police and law enforcement, stress, police stress and
job burnout, job dissatisfaction, work stress, and managerial job change. There are, of
course, hundreds of sources that relate to these topics, especially in the federal service; by
comparison, however, few are actually specific to the chief of police.
Related Sources Discovered
In performing the literature review for this study, similar positions to the chief of police in
local government were of concern. Some attention has been given recently to turnover
among local government managers (DeSantis & Renner, 1993; Renner, 1990; Whitaker &
DeHoog, 1991). Management researchers posit that administrative turnover leads to
inconsistent organization outcomes; therefore, understanding manager turnover is important
for public administration and may have implications for public policy as well (Finkelstein &
Hambrick, 1990). As turnover concerns the field of public administration, scholars have
argued that administrative turnover is significant because it illustrates a loss of institutional
memory and neutral competence (Hass & Wright, 1989; Heclo, 1977; Lewis, 1991; Wilson,
This evidence makes it important to consider the literature regarding local government
managers and specifically the city manager. Policy and management consequences of
turnover are now being identified. Indeed, studies indicate that manager turnover may affect
privatization, capital planning, debt financing, and public-private economic development
projects due to the presupposition of lengthy time horizons on the part of local leaders
(Clingermayer,1995). Similar to police chiefs and other administrators, city managers have
a tendency to be highly mobile, and fewer total city managers come from within the home
organization (Renner, 1990). The literature indicates that the education and
professionalization of local government managers, specifically city managers, has led to
greater levels of careerism (Nalbandian, 1991; Renner, 1990). Regarding the tenure of city
managers is the evidence in the literature that political institutions, including the formal
structures of local government, are consistent predictors of turnover among city managers
(Whitaker & DeHoog, 1991).
Similar studies regarding police chiefs are not specifically identified in the literature. A
further review of the literature regarding turnover among city managers yields information
that at times the professional norms of managers may come into conflict with the interests of
public officials (Svara, 1990). This is consistent with the finding that the presence of a
popularly elected mayor was significantly and negatively related to city-manager tenure
(Svara, 1990; Whitaker & DeHoog, 1991).
Works that specifically regarded political conflicts of interest or the presence of a
popularly elected mayor as direct predictors of police-chief turnover were not found. In this
study, some of the same city-manager turnover factors are found in the loss of police-chief
positions regarding some of the subjects interviewed during the research.
Although the review of city-manager turnover in the literature yielded some results,
replications of this type of research was not identifiable for police chiefs specifically. It is
reasonable to consider applying some of the implications of city-manager turnover to police-
chief turnover because both positions are usually "at will employment positions subject to
political changes, media scrutiny, and community demands.
In addition to the scan of local-government turnover literature, a deep look at the police
literature produced information that controversial police-officer-involved shootings, unethical
conduct, and criminal conduct are offered as possible reasons for the shortened careers of
police officers in police organizations (Fyfe, 1979,1981; Geller, 1985; Mayo, 1985). While
informative about the careers of police officers generally, these works are not specific to
police chiefs as a part of the ranks of police officers. These sources are generally concerned
with police officers as those who perform the vital daily functions of policing-the actual
police work that needs to be done. Although the actions of police officers may cost a police
chief his or her job, many of these seminal works are not specifically designed to address the
executive function of the chief of police as the main thrust of their work, whose duties are
quite different in modem police organizations (Peak & Glensor,1996; Sparrow et al., 1990).
Some articles that address police-chief attitudes and professionalism get close to the
issues that may seem to help cause police-chief turnover, such as Poole, Regoli, Culbertson,
& Crank's (1986) discussion of cynicism among police chiefs and Poole et al.s (1988)
demonstration of professionalization" as it impinges on the professional police chief. In
addition. Peak and Glensor (1996) make the point that police leaders must be flexible and
open to new ideas such as community policing in order to thrive and do well in todays police
environment. However, professionalism and the implementation of new policing concepts
are not directly linked to police-chief turnover.
One of the key literary sources that supports this study is a recent book, Power and the
Police Chief (Hunt & Magenau,1993). The authors provide an analysis of the power and
political ramifications of the police-chief position and get at what may actually be some of
the causes of police-chief turnover in major cities. They also inform us that, indeed, the
police chiefs position has long been recognized as being political which is really the
complex forces at work around the chief (p. 27). Hunt and Magenau (1993) provide a good
description of the types of things that beleaguer the police chief:
Add to this the unions, other employee groups, state government officials and
functionaries, plus the many, many other interested pakoj62rties of all sorts with which a
chief must deal, and it is easy to see why police chiefs, especially in major cities, come to
see themselves in a storm at sea aboard a leaking and rudderless ship with a mutinous
crew. (p. 24)
In an article in The Police Chief magazine, Neilsen (1990) notes that some police chiefs
run into political trouble and even lose their jobs because they simply do not understand all
of the complex forces that effect the job of being *a police chief. As Bouza (1990) observes
in his book, The Police Mystique, the chiefs selection is a political act, and virtually
everything the chief undertakes can have political implications.
In other sources Moore and Stephens (1991) point out the challenging fact of external
accountability that impacts the police chief at the same time as accountability to his or her
very own police officers and other members of the organization. At the same time Wadman
and Olson (1990) describe how the change demanded of today's police threatens police
officers and police organizations.
Delattre (1994) argues that integrity is not negotiable for the good police leader. From
another vantage point, one might take the view that the modem police manager/leader
needs to have the appropriate background, education, and qualifications to succeed at a task
such as being a police chief.
Indeed, Allison (1994), as noted in the Criminal Justice Abstracts, deduces from a
content analysis of job announcements for municipal police-chief jobs that three common
criteria (for police-chief selection) emerged: education, police experience, and police-
management experience. Allison's publication, however, does not go on to establish that
these three items are necessary to retain police-chief positions. These seem to be important
variables to explore relative to police-chief turnover when Stephens (cited in Sparrow et al.,
1990) notes that the increasing complexity of police responsibility brings with it a need for a
new generation of police executive. A check of the Sage Public Administration Abstracts.
Vols. 17-24, (McDowell.1997): the Criminal Justice Periodicals Index. Vols. 19-24
(Gilbert,1997); and the Criminology. Penology and Police Science Abstracts. Vols. 32-37
(Van Dijk,1997) did not produce any publication concerning police-chief turnover. As
another consideration, any study of police-chief turnover in city manager/council forms of
government would need to include the fact that relationship and communication skills for use
with the city manager, indeed may be important to police-chief survival in that form of
government (Goodwin, Anderson, & Rianoshek,1988; Payne,1988).
In an article called Mission Impossible in Governing magazine, Mahtesian (1997) makes
the following observation and asks a question: Everybody agrees that todays big-city police
chiefs are better-prepared than ever before. So why can't they keep their jobs? (p. 19). The
article notes that police chiefs are being sacked even in the absence of impropriety or
misconduct and examines the political situations of several major city chiefs. However, the
article does not draw empirical conclusions, letting the reader wonder about actual causes of
turnover as it ends with the whimsical quote from former Milwaukee Chief Philip Arreola:
The best chief is the next chief. And the last one (p. 20).
Factors in Police-Chief Turnover Drawn from the Literature
Taken as a whole, this review of the literature does provide some insight into potential
factors possibly to be discovered by further research. As noted in this chapter, clearly the
literature addresses the complexity of police work and enumerates its casualties: burnout,
stress, corruption, emotional health concerns, physiological health concerns, family
considerations, and the danger of the job itself. In addition to these, the literature also
identifies a number of possibilities for concern for police chiefs: political threats, organization
leadership, labor relations, administrative duties, community concerns, decision making,
policymaking, fiscal challenges, and human resource issues.
This literature review enables one to discern the difference among the types of literature
in law enforcement, criminal justice, and policing. In addition, the review helps one to
recognize the important link of being a police chief to organization, leadership, management,
policy, and political literature.
On the basis of the literature review, one can form a body of knowledge that helps to
understand what factors or reasons caused police chiefs to leave their departments. Some
of these are confirmed by the research in this study. The literature review offers a
theoretical perspective to begin the study of police-chief turnover. Based on this literature
review, a list of potential factors or reasons for police chiefs leaving their positions follows:
1. Taking a perceived better police-chief position with another city.
2. Leaving the profession for perceived better opportunities elsewhere.
4. Labor struggles and/or votes of no confidence.
5. Physical health difficulties.
6. Emotional or psychological health difficulties.
7. Lack of administrative support from the city manager or mayor.
8. Political struggles with the policymaking body such as city council.
9. Alleged or proven wrongdoing/criminal conduct.
10. Family health or family issues.
11. Difficulties with media sources.
12. A community event or series of events involving the department.
13. Unrealistic expectations on the part of the city manager or mayor.
Summary of the Review of the Literature
The literature review provided very few explanations regarding police-chief turnover in
the state of Colorado. Indeed, there are scant references to the why of police-chief turnover
in the United States as well, and exploratory studies of this nature are not apparent. While
the literature is clear about the complexity and political tenuousness of both the police-chief
and the city-manager positions, actual case studies of individual police chiefs who left their
positions are not available. This represents a gap in the literature relative to police-chief
careers. In addition, the literature does not provide any specific insight to the tenures or
careers of police chiefs in the United States or the state of Colorado. The literature also
does not address any public-administration implications for this state. Even though it is clear
from the literature that the police have an interesting organizational and cultural situation and
that the job of the police officer is demanding, complex, and stressful, one cannot, from the
literature, assume that the same dynamics which affect the career of the working patrol
officer or detective are the very same factors which affect the career of the chief of police.
This study supplements the literature to date and provides data not yet found in the
literature, especially given the occupational life-history format of this study. The research
uses subjects who are chiefs in Colorado cities. These are representative case samples
(Shontz, 1965) of police chiefs in a particular state which is a reasonable sampling method.
It also is necessary given the thousands of police agencies in similar governmental
situations throughout the United States. The methodology for this exploratory study is
discussed in the next chapter.
Conceptual Framework of the Study
While there are vast numbers of studies and literature on the history and types of policing
and some publications about the role of the police chief, there is a paucity of knowledge
about the real lives and careers of working police chiefs. As demonstrated earlier by a
review of recent Colorado media sources, there is no shortage of media stories about the
departure of police chiefs from their jobs. However, these are not occupational life histones
which provide actual types of case studies on the careers and circumstances of police
chiefscase studies which according to Patton (1990) consist of all of the information one
has about each case, such as interview data, documentary data, statistical information,
background information, and life-history profiles. The life-history case study, as described by
Denzin and Lincoln (1994), finds particular value in identifying problematic moments in the
lives of individuals. This is precisely the approach of this study in determining from the data
the circumstances, reasons, and factors surrounding the departure of police chiefs in the
state of Colorado.
This exploratory study uses a case-study approach, using ethnographic techniques as
described by Van Maanen, Dabbs, and Faulkner (1982), including formal interviewing,
document collecting, recording, and the use of logs. The use of several ethnographic
techniques are used for validation purposes. The use of the strategy of triangulation, which
allows the testing of one source against another in validating data (Fetterman,1989), is used
in this study. Specifically, the data collected in this study through the use of notes and
transcribed interviews, are tested against at least two other sources of information for each
chiefs occupational life history. For instance, the information supplied by a subject police
chief in an interview is tested against written employment or separation agreements and a
separate media story or publication or two separate news stories from different publications.
In this way, the reasons or factors supplied by interview subjects can be triangulated from
two other independent sources and, thereby, checked for data validity.
While news and organizational accounts allude to the reasons why police-chief departures
may have occurred, there simply is no recent valid information about the real reasons. That
is, it seems, in most cases, the police chief himself or herself has not always spoken directly
about what is believed to be the cause from the chiefs standpoint, and what has been said
has not been supported by other evidence.
Evidence indicates that vacancies occur in the ranks of police chiefs at an alarming or at
least curious rate. Indeed, the 1997 membership directory of the Colorado Association of
Chiefs of Police indicates that at least 35 city police chiefs in Colorado have left their
positions, representing just over 24% of the membership, in just 2 years. Data from the
same source show that at least 50 chiefs have left their jobs in the last 5 years out of a total
membership of 145 police chiefs. This represents an astounding 34.5% turnover among
Colorado member chiefs in just 5 years.
Based on the high rate of police-chief turnover, this research explores ten case studies of
police chiefs who have left their positions within the last 5 years. The study allowed the
researcher to contact and visit with police chiefs who are representative of the geographic
regions of Colorado and experienced turnover in their jobs. The ethnographic method let
them tell their stories. Data were collected by use of the qualitative interview, perhaps most
closely aligned with the standardized open-ended interview as described by Patton (1990) in
which a set of the same questions are worded and asked of each respondent. This approach
is supported by the notion of semistructured interviews as described by Layder (1993).
Questions were asked about their backgrounds, education, career paths, and factors in their
ascendance to the police-chief position. These life-history questions are in accord with the
life-writing technique of Smith (cited in Denzin & Lincoln, eds., 1994) wherein the writing
provides profiles, life biographies, and case studies.
The contacts with police chiefs include chiefs from urban, resort, and small or rural
agencies. The study is one of exploratory research, which for Patton (1990) is a state-of-the-
art consideration, a qualitative mode of fieldwork that allows for data gathering and emerging
patterns. The study went further in its exploration by locating other documentation and
evidence to support or compare with what is learned from police-chief interviewees. Thus
the information was validated from triangulation techniques as described by Marshall and
Rossman (1994) and Layder (1993).
From these exploratory case studies, implications are drawn for the practice and study of
public administration. Conclusions are illustrated about the patterns and factors identified
regarding police-chief turnover.
Specifics of the Study
As noted, the researcher conducted interviews with incumbent or recently departed chiefs
of police who had left a police-chief position within the last 5 years in the state of Colorado in
order to determine, from an exploratory case-study perspective, the patterns, themes,
domains, reasons, and thus causal factors relative to these departures. For purposes of this
study, police chiefs are those who are chief executives of locally organized police agencies.
In essence, the occupational life histories and other data are part and parcel of what may be
thought of as case studies on the police chiefs career experiences. The exploration and
case studies were done together as one exercise. This study involved fieldwork to some
degree (Blumer, 1986), in which the researcher was able to meet face to face with police
chiefs. The interviews largely took place in their former or new workplaces in an attempt to
understand the course of their careers, turns that their career paths have taken, and factors
that they believe have caused them to leave other or former police-chief positions.
As Shaffir and Stebbins (1991) have described it, fieldwork is accomplished by immersing
ones self in a collective way of life for the purpose of gaining firsthand knowledge about a
major facet of it. This collective way of life is that of the police chief and/or former police
Another way to describe the process is one of field observation, which Babbie (1979)
claims differs from some "other models of observation in that it is not only a data-collecting
activity. Frequently, perhaps typically, it is a theory generating activity as well" (p. 205). As
such, the researcher spent time with the police-chief subjects, especially through
semistructured interviews (Layder,1993). These types of interviews are, according to
Bogdan and Biklen (1982), a purposeful conversation, usually between two people, that is
directed by one in order to get information. This conversation with a purpose (Kahn &
Canned, 1957) represents an in-depth interview, which is a data-collection method relied on
quite extensively by qualitative researchers (Marshall & Rossman,1994).
The research involved ethnography. As described by Van Maanen (1988), ethnography
is a term used to cover a wide array of very different research adventures in the social world.
As a method, it involves extensive fieldwork of various types, including participant
observation, formal and informal interviewing, document collecting, filming, and recording. It
is an approach used to study self-contained societies as well as groups, organizations, and
institutions within society. The ethnography in this study included interviewing, document
collecting, and recording of information.
In addition, Ely (1991) observes that some researchers choose ethnographic interviews
as their central data-gathering method and do less observation-participation, confining the
research to the interview itself. While participant observation was not a key component of
this study, the interviews were.
In this study the interviews are supported, through triangulation, by other types of
documentation and evidence. Specifically, this evidence included actual employment
contracts, separation agreements, news articles, press releases, newsletter information, and
Ethnography is helpful to the study of causal factors in that Hammersley (1985) argues
that the ethnographic approach tends to use qualitative methods and forms of data to
describe and analyze particular settings, groups, or organizations. Also, it is sometimes
associated with a theory-building approach.
Regarding theory, Glaser and Strauss (1967) have championed the use of qualitative
methods and data in demonstrating theory and said that these methods can be used to
generate precise, reliable, and valid social research systematically. Indeed, Hammersley
(1985) emphasizes that while much of ethnography places great emphasis on the description
of groups, individuals, organizations, and societies as a central goal of research, there are
portions that highlight a form of theoretical description. According to Layder (1993), Glaser
and Strauss's notion of grounded theory is related to a wider context of qualitative analysis
and method. Glaser and Strauss (1967) believe that grounded theory is a key concept in
qualitative research in that they think grounded theory shares the assumption that the social
world must be discovered using qualitative methods and employing an exploratory
orientation. Thus Glaser and Strausss notions support the exploratory nature of this study.
Glaser and Strauss (1967) also stress that qualitative methods and data uniquely capture the
unfolding nature of the interpretations and processes as well as the meaning that the
researcher is studying. As such, these authors note that all formal theory must first proceed
through and emerge from a substantive grounding in data. It is these data from contact and
experience with police chiefs that were obtained in this research and formed into organized
information regarding police-chief turnover.
The case-study approach was employed to satisfy the exploration of circumstances and
data. At times, researchers will approach a topic without any clear ideas about what to
expect in terms of relationships and variables (Babbie, 1979), and these case studies yielded
significant unexpected data variables during the research project. According to Shaffir and
Stebbins (1991), most field projects are exploratory. In short, the researcher approaches the
field with certain orientations, among them flexibiTity in looking for data and open-
mindedness about where to find it. The authors state that the main goal of exploratory
research is the generation of inductively obtained generalizations about the field. These
generalizations eventually may be woven into what may be called a grounded theory of the
phenomenon under consideration, the procedure for which is found in a series of publications
by Glaser (1978), Glaser and Strauss (1967), and Strauss (1987).
In this study the exploratory nature of the occupational-life stories lends itself to the
discovery of information about police-chief turnover which resulted in the grounded-theory
dynamic. Exploration, according to Babbie (1979), is the "attempt to develop an initial,
rough understanding of some phenomenon" (p. 111). That is why this research employed
the exploratory method through interviews, supporting documents, and occupational life
histories to gather the data and then draw the theory and implications. While exploratory
study may increase the investigators familiarity with the phenomenon (Warwick & Lininger,
1975), it is important to remember that the case study provides a chronological narrative
(Quade, 1982) and is a valid form of field research which provides a concrete instance or
unit of analysis (Babbie,1979). It is the familiarity with the phenomenon of police-chief
turnover which was achieved by exploratory study through the intimate and thorough
exploration of actual police- chief life histories and career cases.
It is difficult to generalize from single cases (Kennedy,1979); therefore, a larger number
of cases than just one or a few (Babbie, 1979) were used in this study to allow for broader
and deeper data collection as well as supportive theory and reasonable implications for
policing and public administration.
Indeed, given the dynamic of using the findings of this study to inform public
administration, it is helpful to remember that Quade (1982) speaks of causes (in this study,
causes of police-chief turnover) that we can potentially do something about, which he says
are similar to recipes for action. This is precisely the way in which this study views
discovered information about police-chief tumover-that if the causes of the loss of police-
chief positions are identified through actual case studies, then public administration can
begin to act on the factors which cause turnover. Lofland (1971) makes it an imperative that
qualitative researchers attend to causal accounts in the course of their research, which for
the purposes of this study support the intent to record and keep technologically a written log
of the research proceedings. In keeping with this theory, this study did utilize transcribed
taped interviews, handwritten notes and logs, document collection, and data collation. As
Shaffir and Stebbins (1991) instruct, the field researcher typically supplements the research
with additional methodological techniques in field research, often including semistructured
interviews, life histories, and document analysis. These are found in this study.
The factors of police-chief turnover in the state of Colorado, then, are explored through
case histories of chiefs of police who have lost or changed their police-chief positions. The
next section of this chapter provides more specifics on the research procedures and
Research Procedures and Participants
The population of subjects for this study is selected police chiefs from the state of
Colorado. This population is likely representative of police chiefs in the United States of
America (Shontz, 1965), and it is a manageable sample that may well provide implications
for police chiefs around the country. In addition, with the more than 17,000 police agencies
estimated to exist in this country and the expansive geography of this country, a more
compact and reasonably limited sample made sense for this study. This extraordinary
number of police agencies and the extensive geographical territory create travel and
temporal considerations which support the idea that Colorado police chiefs would justifiably
be used as representative samples for policing. Thus the "representative case" sampling
method (Shontz, 1965) was used. In this method, cases are not chosen at random from
large numbers, but rather are selected because they are judged to be representative of the
phenomenon under investigation. Also of importance, the researcher has experience,
tenure, and credibility as a chief of police in Colorado, which lends to the possibility of trust
and openness on the part of the subjects.
Police chiefs in the state of Colorado comprise a reasonable representative sample as a
part of American policing as well. Colorado has urban, resort, and rural police departments
scattered throughout the state. As such, it compares favorably with other states in terms of
the many sizes and styles of police departments in the United States. According to the
Colorado Peace Officer Standards and Training Board (POST), the certification of peace
officers and various recruitment and selection methods for police chiefs are similar or,
indeed, the same as many other states (Colorado POST, 1997).
Even the issues that are faced by Colorado police chiefs, such as search and seizure
considerations, use of force, training, community relations, and program innovation, are very
much the same as in most agencies in the United States. Indeed, many of the key police-
chief issues are national in scope. The issues in small, medium, and large departments
found in Colorado exist across the country as well. The principles of policing, ethical
frameworks, organizational values, leadership considerations, and complexity of police
chiefing are all found in the cities of our land and in all states. The functions of the police
chief (Wilson, 1950), politics of being a police chief (Schultz, 1979), need for the integrity of
the police chief (Vanagunas & Elliott, 1980), and chiefs involvement in policymaking and
management (Fielding, 1995) are applied evenly to police chiefs in the United States.
Peak and Glensor (1996) make a case for the need for modem, flexible police chiefs in
American policing. These authors and experts make no exceptions or differences by state or
region; they assert that being a police chief in the United States involves these items across
the board. The application for police chiefs is nationwide for these types of authors found in
police literature. In the same way, studying police chiefs in Colorado has a reasonable
application for police chiefs and public administrators in most cities and all states. For these
reasons, the selected chiefs in this study are representative.
The police chief, as researcher, is unique and important to this study as Lee (1993) points
out that qualitative researchers, whatever the topic of their research, often cannot help
discovering discrediting or sensitive information. Obviously, trust and confidence were
needed when interviewing once-powerful administrators who have left their positions.
For purposes of objectivity and validity, the sample of police chiefs in this study came
from five regions of police-chief members as found in the state of Colorado, according to an
objective delineation by the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) and labeled as
follows: metropolitan region, northeast region, southeast region, northwest region, and
southwest region. In this way, the cities chosen represented all portions of the state and
allowed for subjects from urban, rural, and resort areas to participate in the study. These
regions, as a whole, provided an opportunity to sample small, medium, and large police
departments. A chief of police was located for each region of the state, and logically,
several more were from the largest populated area, the Denver metropolitan area.
While the CACP does not define small, medium, and large departments, the regions
provided opportunity for the study of chiefs of departments of various sizes. For the
purposes of this study, the departments are categorized as small, medium, and large due to
the absence of other categorizations by the chiefs' professional association. Specifically, the
departments in this study are listed as agencies with less than 25 (small), from 25 to 75
officers (medium), and over 75 officers (large). The study has several jurisdictions from the
metropolitan membership area and a number from each of the other regions for a total of ten
samples and, therefore, ten subjects.
For purposes of governmental consistency as well as public administration continuity, all
participants were from municipal jurisdictions that required the chief to report to managers
responsible for "supervising" the police chief. All subjects were from cities with a
council/manager form of government or cities transitioning to this form of government during
their tenure. No subjects were interviewed who reported to a political board such as a police
commission. This was done in order to have some parameters for this particular study and
to draw implications for police chiefs and public administration that could be logically applied
to governmental entities in similar situations. In addition, all chiefs were the executives of
their departments, not a division head in the federal or state system or a chief "subservient"
to the direction of another chief such as a public safety director or superintendent. The
chief-of- police subjects had to meet another qualifier as well in that they all operated within
the boundaries of city limits. For greater assurance of consistency, elected county sheriffs,
marshals, and federal directors, while all are chief executives in law enforcement, were not
included in this study.
The participants were interviewed by the researcher utilizing a semistructured interview
(Layder,1993), which had the features and flavor of an elite interview as well. The elite
interview, as described by Marshall and Rossman (1994), is a unique case of interviewing
that focuses on a particular type of interviewee. Certainly a police chief could be included in
It is important to note that the case-study research actually involved a multistrategy
approach (Burgess, 1982; Denzin, 1970; Stacey, 1969) or mixed strategy as identified by
Douglas (1976). Triangulation (Ely, 1991; Layder, 1993; Marshall & Rossman, 1994) of the
data was important and was part of a multistrategy approach. In addition to the interviews of
the police chiefs, several other sources of data were checked and explored in order to
corroborate and triangulate the data: city council proceedings, newspaper and media
accounts, city clerk documents, and any personnel or quasi-personnel documents that could
be obtained either from the organizations or the individuals involved.
All interviews were tape recorded and transcribed as another strategy in collecting the
data, and a system of accounting and notes was employed by the use of logs (Bogdan &
Biklen, 1982). As Ann McComack Steinmetz (cited in Ely, 1991) so aptly puts it, the log is
the data, and detail is everything. Each subject also participated in a second or follow-up
interview. This was done in order to assure the accuracy and validity of each subjects
original responses and statements in the first interview. Each subject was asked the
interview questions a second time, and responses were written down a second time by the
The interviews of the subjects included occupational life histories. This helped to
discover how the police chiefs came into policing, what their career paths were leading up to
the police-chief appointment, who their mentors were, what their education levels were, and
what specific assignments happened along the way.
The qualitative methodology that was employed was done for at least three reasons: (a)
the size of the sample (ten); (b) the need and desire to do life histories as a part of the
important data; and (c) the exploratory nature of the study, in that to the knowledge of the
researcher, it has not been done before. These data were analyzed for major and minor
themes or domains. From these themes and domains, factors, theories, and implications
Research Question and Interview Questions
The proposed research question that is the underpinning for this study was: Through
exploratory study, what are the key reasons or causal factors discovered regarding the
departure of chiefs of police from their positions in the state of Colorado?
In order to get at this fundamental question and after a description was requested of the
individual cities and jurisdictions in terms of size, economy, location, and key identifiers, the
following key questions were posed during the interviews of the police-chief subjects:
1. What was your career background before entering policing?
2. What is your educational history and achievement?
3. What are the highlights of your police career in terms of assignments along your
4. What was your police rank when you were appointed to your first police-chief job?
When you were appointed to your last chiefs job?
5. What was your education level when first appointed to a police-chief position? When
you were appointed to your last chiefs job?
6. How many years were you in your last police-chief position?
7. What do you believe were the reasons or factors in leaving your last police-chief
8. Were you in a position to decide how and when to leave this last position? Why?
9. Were there any unusual or unforeseen circumstances that caused you to leave your
10. Why and how did you become a police chief the first time? The last time?
11. if given the opportunity or if you had to do it all over again, would you choose to be a
police chief again? Why or why not?
12. Do you have any leadership lessons to tell as a result of being a police chief?
13. Do you have anything to add regarding these questions or your career as a police
Analysis of Data
The use of logs and the fact that all interviews were recorded coincides with Elys (1991)
notion that qualitative research involves an almost continuous and progressive data analysis
from the very beginning of the data collection. The process used in this study allowed the
researcher to check emergent patterns, trends, and insights. In addition, Layder (1993)
believes that the use of qualitative analysis and data is a central requirement of field
research. Marshall and Rossman (1994) describe data analysis as the process of bringing
order, structure, and meaning to a mass of collected data.
Following the advice and model of these authors, the researcher
1. Organized the data~This entailed the reading and rereading of notes and logs as well
as examining the transcripts after having the interview recordings transcribed. This process
included highlighting note pages and cards, as well, for the purpose of organization and
creation of themes and patterns.
2. Generated Categories, Themes, and Pattems-Through the examination of the
organized data described above, the researcher noted regularities in the subjects' cases and
their circumstances and settings. From these, meaning was established.
3. Wrote the Report-Van Maanen (1988) identified an important genre in qualitative
writing called realist tales, which display a realistic account of the culture (former police
chiefs) under study.
For this study the researcher wrote in a style closest to Van Maanens realist style as the
research was mostly concerned with the thoughts and experiences of police chiefs and the
reasons why they left their positions. This type of realist writing probably was best achieved
by the extensive use of quotes from the police-chief subjects themselves.
In essence, the researchers qualitative data analysis used this model and writing style for
a reason. This was to accomplish what Lofland (1971) says is the pursuit of the causes and
consequences of things that exist.
Due to the reality of the working worlds of police chiefs and the fact that both the
researcher and subjects were potentially impacted by such a study, care was taken to ensure
the credibility of the study as well as to consider the special circumstances of interviewing
police chiefs who had left a police-chief position at some point. As such, this study was
considered as addressing sensitive topics (Lee, 1993) and socially sensitive research as
defined by Sieber and Stanley (1988) who believe that these types of studies are ones in
which there are potential consequences or implications, either directly for the participants in
the research or for the class of individuals represented by the research, in this case, police
chiefs in the United States.
The study was approved by the Human Research Committee of the University of
Colorado at Denver and met the confidentiality standards of that committee. A consent form
was developed for the subjects agreeing to participate in the study, and this consent
document was approved by the committee as well (see Appendix A).
Many of the individuals approached in this study have left one police-chief position for
another or taken another public-sector position. As such, names of individuals or their
jurisdictions were not used in this study. Instead, pseudonyms for both the police-chief
subject and jurisdiction are used. It was helpful to this consideration that the researcher in
this study was a retired police chief, a status which carries with it some credibility and
Certainly, one special consideration of this study was the need to be trustworthy (Lincoln
& Guba, 1985), credible, and realistic about the study itself. As Mitchell (1993) points out,
the researcher's role is mitigated by the qualitative study of subjects; that is, the researcher
potentially is affected by the research and those subjects being studied as well. The very
fact that the research explores police-chief turnover has a potential impact in the police-chief
community, and it was not covert or unknown to the police-chief community. As Blumer
(1969) notes, secrecy in these types of studies is never complete. With these thoughts in
mind, the researcher considered Brannens (1988) suggestion that the research should be
allowed to emerge gradually over the course of the interview.
This study was an exploratory qualitative study that through interviews with chiefs of
police discovered the patterns, themes, or reasons why police chiefs in Colorado leave their
positions. Supporting these interviews through triangulation is other evidence found through
the media, organizational documents, or legal documents.
The study examined ten cases through the identification of ten police chiefs who had
recently left their positions in the state of Colorado. For consistency and objectivity, the
interview subjects represented chief executives who reported to one person, in a jurisdiction
that was within the confines of a municipal boundary, and from all parts of the state. Specific
questions about the background, education, career paths, and reasons for leaving the last
chiefs job were asked of each respondent. The cooperation of the subjects depended, to
some degree, on the researchers status as a retired and thus former Colorado police chief,
who has rapport with colleagues and a familiarity with the practice of being a police chief.
The interviews were tape recorded and notes were taken with the permission of the
subjects. These data, along with other documents and media accounts, were examined for
patterns, themes, domains, reasons, and causative factors regarding how and why police
chiefs leave their jobs.
From the examination of the data, these identified themes and patterns were used to
illustrate the impact or significance to public administration. In particular, these are
significant to those public administrators or officials who must deal with the departure of
police chiefs in their cities or organizations.
FINDINGS: OCCUPATIONAL-LIFE HISTORIES
Overview of Results and Occupational-Life Histories
This chapter presents the actual results of the interviews and occupational-life histories of
the ten police-chief subjects. Based on confidentiality considerations, needs, and
requirements, the actual identities of the ten police chiefs are not shared. Instead,
pseudonyms have been created for the ten subjects. In addition, although the cities,
jurisdictions, and police departments will be generally described for each subject's situation,
proper names of cities, police departments, and media sources are not used.
The police-chief subjects participating in this study will be identified with alphabet
designations. For example, the first subject presented in this chapter will be referred to as
"Chief A," the second subject as "Chief B," and so forth for the ten chiefs. Cities and police
departments will be generally referred to generically as, for instance, "the city" or "the
The intent of this chapter is to present information on each of the ten police-chief subjects
individually, including background and factual information as well as their answers to key
questions. In addition, the subjects have the opportunity in this chapter to expand on ideas
and thoughts that they had as a result of participating in this study.
The organization of this chapter is straightforward. Each police-chief subject's city and
department were factually described by the police chief. Data about each police chiefs
occupational history also are presented which includes the individual chiefs education,
career path, police rank when appointed to the chiefs position, and age upon leaving the
police chief position held. Some of the chiefs are more expansive and comprehensive than
A descriptive text portraying and quoting the individuals responses is provided for each
chief. In this text the reasons or factors for leaving the chiefs position are discussed. Some
attention also is given to any leadership comments that each police chief had as a result of
the experience of being a police chief and leaving a police-chief position.
Also included in each subject's results is other documentation which corroborates and
verifies what the individual chief had said about the circumstances surrounding the departure
from the police-chief position. These documents include news articles, personnel
documents, employment contracts, letters, and memoranda. As would be expected, the
documents are not the same for each participant chief but do represent the triangulation of
the data as noted in the methodology chapter of this work. Again, for purposes of
confidentiality, the exact titles of the documents or names of local publications are not used
in order that these documents cannot create a name identification of the police-chief subject.
The type of documents used for triangulation purposes is specified, and quotes from actual
documents are used in order to substantiate interview data. This method creates a full
context for the overall discussion of each subject's circumstances.
This chapter is a part of the data analysis model forwarded by Miles and Huberman
(1984; 1994) in which qualitative data analysis is defined as having three portions: data
reduction, data display, and conclusion drawing. The occupational-life histories presented
here constitute a data reduction as condensed data is presented on each subject police
The purpose of this chapter is to present the results and data concerning each of the ten
police-chief subjects. Implications and conclusions are left for the final chapters of this
study, where the results of the ten subjects' cases will be examined as a whole. The
substance of this chapter starts with the first subject. Chief A.
Police Chief Subject #1: Chief A
City and Agency Background and Factual Information
This subject's city is a rural Colorado city that acts as a service hub for a widespread
area. According to Chief A:
The city is a community of 11,500 people. The economic base is primarily based in the
coal industry and the power plant that is here in (the) County and the neighboring
(county). A lot of sheep and agricultural-based resources as well, so that's the basic
resources primarily supported by the power plant and coal mine. Education, we (have) a
local junior college that a lot of people are going (to) to get their college education. Prior
to that it didn't exist. (The education level), really not sure because as many people that
are going back to college and working on their degrees I would say that we may be below
the national level, but yet a lot of people (are) working in the mines and then there's
management people who don't even have a higher education so I'm not really sure.
Sometimes it feels like they are lower educated at least in the business sense because of
some of the things in the way people operate here compared to what I've seen in other
more affluent communities.
It's definitely a western community, small town values, western atmosphere. When I first
came here in '87 (there were) a lot of "good old boy" attitudes; that's slowly starting to
change, but it's still present. A lot of the old-time people are afraid of growth, because
they don't want (the city) to change, and they know what happens with growth, and the
other problem is that they have had such a boom and bust cycle here through history.
The last one boomed in the early 80s and the bust about '84, '85, and then its slowly
climbing back, so were going back up.
The city is a home-rule city that operates with a city manager/council form of local
government. The city has a full-time city manager, who functions as the supervisor of the
police chief, as well as a part-time elected mayor and city council.
The police department had 19 officers during Chief As tenure with an additional 8
members who were not commissioned peace officers, comprising a force of 27 people total.
Chief A said that when he first came to the agency, it was experiencing an 87% "turnover
Background and Factual Information Regarding Chief A
Chief A was a police officer for a total of 23 years when he left his police-chief position at
the age of 43. He started his career in a neighboring state as a patrol officer in 1975 in a
small community. He worked his way up the ranks" and became a field-training officer and
a patrol sergeant. Two years after becoming a sergeant, he became a lieutenant, which put
him in "second command of the department." His original department was eventually made
into a public safety agency, which combined police, fire, and emergency services. As a
result of this. Chief A was able to gain experience as an emergency manager for the county
as well as facility remodeling and management. He believed that the police chief of his
agency was going to be in the position for a long time and that he had "reached as far as he
could go, so he decided to come to Colorado and work for the agency where he eventually
became chief. He arrived at this new department as a lieutenant as a lateral transfer. He
said that this position was later changed to the title of captain, and he again found himself
"second in command here as well." He served as a captain in the department from 1987 to
1996, working in operational areas of the department where he eventually was appointed
chief of police.
Chief A was able to receive the appointment of chief of police without undergoing any
formalized selection process. He said that the city "didn't use one" and that the city "felt (he)
was the best qualified." He was a captain, when appointed, who held an Associate's degree
in Criminal Justice. He remained in the chiefs position for 2 years and 2 months.
Reasons and Factors in Chief A Leaving the Position
Chief A believes that he left the police-chief position "on a positive note" as he wanted to
do. He does not believe that he was "forced out" or that there were any particular
unforeseen circumstances which caused his departure. Indeed, he believes that a number of
community members tried to get him to "change his mind."
Although Chief A expressed that he chose to leave on a positive note, it was clear there
were several reasons and factors which caused him to leave his position as police chief.
When asked about these reasons and factors, Chief A said, "There was a number of them."
He said that while he was "young by most standards (43), he was "getting tired" and was
"burned out a bit." He said that if he left his law-enforcement career, he would like to do
something which combined his police experience, management experience, ability to deal
with people, and construction background "from when (he) was younger." The city happened
to have a position open in another department; therefore. Chief A left his chiefs position to
take that job, believing it would be something that used his combination of skills.
Data from the interview yielded more significant information about reasons for leaving the
position. Importantly, during the interview the "number" of reasons were reduced to three
very important ones: health, stress, and time away from his family. During his police-chief
tenure Chief A developed a heart condition called heart arrhythmia, an irregularity of the
heartbeat. Chief A said that he had little time to exercise due to the demands and time
considerations of being chief. His doctor confirmed what he seemed to suspect: Job stress
could be related to his heart condition.
Chief A seemed to become increasingly aware of the costs of being a police chief in
terms of time away from his family, which was expressed as a major concern, and the health
ramifications of job stress. He said that his heart condition worsened, but one time, when
away for awhile on vacation, he could feel his health and stress symptoms disappear, but
"the day I came back to work it started up again." Chief A opted to leave his chiefs job and
take another position with the city. As Chief A put it:
The other thing was that the job of chief is very stressful. I mean it's a very stressful job;
if someone said that its not, then they aren't doing much of a chiefs job, but it's stressful.
It took a lot of time away from my family, I mean, plus the fact that my predecessor had
left me with some problems, particularly personnel and some community things, but he
was a very isolated type of person and he basically came here to retire, and I ended up
running the department while he was here anyway.
Chief A believed that he was left to deal with the many "problems" that his "predecessor
had left" him. These were "personnel and community things. "I had those problems to deal
with; I pretty much got those done, but some of those I just couldn't get rid of, because he
(the predecessor) created such deep wounds that just wouldnt go away." These types of job
requirements and issues clearly affected him. He tells the story of his health concerns:
The other thing was ... I developed heart arrhythmia, an extra beat. The doctor said it
wont kill you, but it's not a normal thing. Thats kind of a strange statement... so I had
done a lot of things and the other problems when I had the chiefs job; I didnt have time
to exercise. The arrhythmia got a little worse. Last summer I took a week off and went
fishing for a week with a good friend of mine. The week I was gone the arrhythmia was
gone. No phone, no pager, no work stuff. The day I came back to work, it started up
again. I told the wife, the whole thing is job and stress related, no doubt about it. The
doctor had said it could have been, so that's when I decided its time to look at something
Chief A encapsulates his reasoning by saying, "I guess the bottom line is the basic
factor(s), stress, time away from my family; it was starting to affect my health. I saw that I
really did not enjoy it like I thought I might, but it was a career goal of mine ....
Leadership Lessons from Chief A
Chief A was asked if he would be a police chief again if he had to do it all over again. He
responded by saying, "No. I would have stayed where I was at (police captain). He went on
to say that basically, he "didn't like it (being a chief), even though it was a goal." The fact
that many chiefs work on an "at-will employment basis, indeed at the pleasure of the city
manager or mayor, was a dynamic of great concern to Chief A. As he said, The biggest
thing that ate at me was the lack of job security. He also said, 'The chief its always
lingering over my head that it's a day-to-day job, its day to day. I mean if they want to get
rid of you, they are going to get rid of you ... it seems like chiefs' jobs, you can believe what
you read in the papers. These guys come and go like hotcakes on a grill."
Concerning actual leadership and management tips, Chief A said one should "take care
of the little things when they happen. Dont let them turn into big things." He said he worked
"extra hard with the community" and "the closer you work with the community, the better you
will get along." Regarding mistakes. Chief A advises to "be honest. Don't hide anything.
Admit mistakes; don't cover a mistake up. Admit you made a mistake." Some of the
personnel issues that Chief A had to deal with, according to him, were dealing with "bad
apples and "whiners." Regarding leadership, a final comment from Chief A was 1 wish I
could leam to deal with whiners."
Trianaulation of Data
Chief A's assertion that he left by means of resignation and was not forced out was
verified and corroborated by three separate sources: a copy of his resignation letter and two
separate news stories. The resignation letter, dated November 25 of the year he resigned, is
addressed to the city manager and titled "Resignation and Request for Transfer. In this
letter Chief A writes, "After much consideration and conversation with my family, I have
decided to resign my position as chief of police.
A second source, a local newspaper article written by a staff writer, verifies what Chief A
said about his resignation. In an article dated December 2 of the year he resigned and
entitled "Chief (A) to stay with city," the journalist writes, "Chief (A) resigned in late October
due to stress on himself and his family and the negative effects it was having on his health."
These words in the article mirror almost exactly the words used during the research process
to express his reasons for leaving. A third newspaper article was located that was written
sometime after the one just mentioned. An exact date for this local news article could not be
found, but writing in a local newspaper, a staff writer noted that Chief A"... announced his
resignation in November to take a job as a city code enforcement specialist." These three
documents were located as a result of the research and represent triangulation of the
The pertinent facts and features of Chief A's profile and departure are represented in
Some Significant Facts and Features of Chief A's Occupational Life History
Education Associates' degree in Criminal Justice
Age upon leaving 43
Population of city 11,500
Description of city Rural, service hub, coal and power industries, junior college, agriculture
Home rule/statutory Home-rule city
Size of department 19 peace officers/ 8 nonswom members
Length of chief tenure 2 years, 2 months
Factors in leaving position Time away from family, health, stress, tired, burned out, lack of job security, opportunity to stay with city in another
Key quote on becoming a chief "Because it was a career goal of mine, to someday be the chief of police."
Key quote on leaving the position "I guess the bottom line is ... the stress, time away from family, it was really starting to affect my health. I saw that I really did not enjoy it like I thought I might."
Official reason for leaving Resigned due to stress on self and family. Effects on personal health. Take another position with the city.
Key quote on leadership lessons learned "The closer you work with the community, the better you will get along." "Be honest." "Dont hide anything. Admit mistakes."
Police Chief Subject #2: Chief B
City and Agency Background and Factual Information
Chief B's city has a state 4-year small college in a rural but popular tourist location. The
population of the city during his tenure was about 14,000 people. Chief B believes that the
education level was above the national average because of the presence of a 4-year college
in the community. Although the community had people from the poverty-level range to high-
income situations, the average income was above the national average. A small ski resort is
found about 25 miles north of the city, and the community has a vibrant summer commercial
tourism season as well. The city is a home-rule city with a city manager/council form of
government. The city has experienced steady and sometimes explosive growth for a
considerable period of time.
The police department has a total of 52 members, 35 of which are peace officers. The
department has added a number of resources over recent years due to growing population
and service numbers. The agency is significantly larger than it would have been two
Background and Factual Information Regarding Chief B
Chief B was appointed to his first and only position as a chief of police after 21 years of
successful service in an agency that was in a metropolitan area and had a major university.
He started his career directly from college and over the years was able to advance his
education as well as his police career. He served in most police positions at various ranks in
his original agency before becoming a police chief. He worked as a patrol officer and foot-
patrol officer while on the way to becoming a sergeant. As a sergeant, he served in training,
patrol, and detectives. He was a lieutenant in the support services division, a division chief
of the patrol division for 5 years, and chief of detectives for 3 years.
Chief B had earned a Doctorate in Public Administration (DPA) before being appointed as
a police chief and possesses two Master's degrees, one in Public Administration and one in
Criminal Justice. He holds two Bachelor's degrees, one in Economics and one in Criminal
Justice, for a total of five college degrees.
Chief B was appointed as a police chief as the result of an interview process, which he
remembers as an interview panel that included the former mayor, city manager, a lawyer in
the community, and personnel director. He went on a "ride along with an officer of the
department as well and then was selected by the city and offered the chiefs job.
A case could objectively be made that Chief B had all of the desired credentials as well
as the proper police pedigree to be selected as a police chief in a college community, a
desirable and growing community. He was chief of police in City B for 1 year and 10 months
before resigning at the age of 46.
Reasons and Factors in Leaving the Position
When asked what he believed to be the reasons or factors in leaving his police-chief
position, Chief B said that he thought they were "threefold. The reasons or factors were
"frustration with not being able to accomplish the goals that I wanted to, internally, primarily"
and frustration with the city manager." He also said:
Six months into the job I realized I was dealing with the same people, doing the same
thing, except the faces were different and I was bored.... In my former agency the
police chief that I had worked for had given me most of the responsibilities of being a
police chief. Looking back on it, I think I was also tired of the work, is probably the best
description. I had a hard time getting the energy level up and frustrated with some of the
internal issues that I was having to deal with. It seemed I wasnt getting anywhere.
What type of internal issues was Chief B dealing with that could be so draining? It seems
that they were integrity and ethics issues mixed in with difficulty in seeing eye to eye with the
city manager. Specifically, Chief B said that he felt he had come into an agency "that was in
the 1950s." He said:
When I got there I walked back about 20 or 25 years in law enforcement... dealing with
issues that I should have thought of but didnt. Those included drinking on duty in the
police department, as authorized by the former chief... eating for free around town ...
employees taking free days off from work.
One can make a case that integrity issues, such as gratuities, unaccounted time, and
drinking, are items which have been unacceptable and forbidden in modem police agencies
for quite some time. The crux for Chief B was the lack of discipline in the department and
"dealing with those internal issues and then not being able to make the necessary changes
within the organization or deal with personnel issues in a way that I felt was appropriate."
Chief B found himself involved in the termination and demotion of police officers:
So they were feeling that I was out to get them and not on their side. I was not popular..
the city manager and I were not getting along well... so it was a combination of getting
frustrated with dealing with the employees, frustrated dealing with the city manager, and
going, Why in the heck am I doing this?"
Part of the irony to this situation was that Chief B felt that he was "very well thought of in
the community" and that "I got along well with the community." He also said he "participated
in a lot of events." When asked what was the official or public reasons for departing, Chief B
Frustration. Actually I said it in my letter of resignation. It's short. It says, "As you know
I have thought about this for some time. The challenges and opportunities have been
overshadowed by the day-to-day frustrations of the job, and I look forward to moving on
to new challenges."
The researcher of this study located the letter of resignation which substantiated the
thrust of Chief B's articulation of the contents of the letter. Chief B added that issues with the
"police union were getting stronger and stronger and that the situation was "one of those
things that build up.
Chief B said, "I thought I was an intelligent person who I thought knew what was going on
.... I guess I just didn't see it going in. He now says, "I should have spent more time
looking at it (the job)."
Chief B's experience of trying to discipline a police department without a solid relationship
with the city manager is a very significant learning point. As he put it in the interview, he felt
that there were three challenges which happen all at once for a police chief: "support the
officers in the department, serve the community, and work with the city manager or council."
Even now Chief B believes that he "learned a lot" from his experience as a chief and that
it was "a good way to end a career," a "valuable experience but a frustrating experience."
When asked if he would do it again, Chief B said, "I cant conceive of the circumstances of
being one (a police chief) again .... I think it is a difficult job."
Leadership Lessons from Chief B
Chief B noted, "It strikes me that we work towards the goal (of being a police chief) but
once we get there, were worn out, and maybe its not all we thought it would be." He
reiterated a dynamic mentioned earlier, when he said: I think that being a police chief is, to
some degree, a three-pronged stool: the community, the officers in the department, and the
administrators of the city and city council. You have to keep at least a couple of those
happy, and thats hard to do!"
His other leadership thought is, "A lot of times what the community wants is not what the
cops want. It causes a lot of conflicts. To try and maintain the balance is real tougn and
maintaining the connection with the officers is tough."
Trianaulation of the Data
The results of the interview process with Chief B were corroborated and verified in a
number of ways and with a number of documents. Three memoranda, all dated on March 22
in the year of Chief B's resignation, were obtained. One memorandum was to the city
manager from Chief B regarding his resignation. In this document Chief B does articulate
his frustration in words almost exactly the same as those he used during the interview
process. The second memorandum contained "media comments" to be released by the city
to media sources and was addressed to the city manager as well. The language was almost
identical to the first memorandum but listed some accomplishments as well such as the
institution of bicycle patrols, DARE program, and a victim services unit. The third
memorandum was addressed to police department employees and contained language
identical to the first memorandum.
Another document was located as well, which also was dated on March 22 of the year of
Chief B's resignation. This memorandum was from Chief B to the city manager and restated
the resignation from his position as well as a list of specifics regarding his departure in terms
of benefits and insurance considerations. Another copy of this same document was
obtained, which bore the word "approved" as well as the signature of the city manager.
A newspaper article from the local daily newspaper also was located. This article
appeared in a March 23 story and had the headline, 'Top cop quits job." A quote from this
article states: There is a certain amount of internal strife, no question about it, said the city
manager. Part of his frustration is bom of that environment." A second article from the
same newspaper was found and is dated March 31. This article notes that Chief B
"announced last week that he would be quitting his job he had held for 11/2 years." A third
news story, appearing on April 4, commented about the "resignation" of Chief B as a
campaign issue for city council candidates.
These eight documents produced by this study triangulate the data regarding Chief B and
his resignation as a police chief. The pertinent facts and features of Chief Bs profile and
departure are represented in Table 4. 2.
Some Significant Facts and Features of Chief Bs Occupational Life History
Education Doctor of Public Administration (DPA) Master of Criminal Justice and MPA
Age upon leaving 46
Population of city 14,000
Description of city Rural, commercial tourism, 4-year state college, growing community, high education level, high average income
Home rule/statutory Home rule
Size of department 35 peace officers/17 nonswom members
Length of chief tenure 1 year, 10 months
Factors in leaving position Frustration with achieving organization goals. Frustration with city manager. Boredom/same kind of duties as past job. Lack of support of city manager in dealing with integrity and ethics issues.
Key quote on becoming a chief "Something I always said I wanted to be." "Was a finalist at home department for chief.
Key quote on leaving the position "Frustration of not being able to accomplish internal goals." "Frustration with the city manager." "My limits of what I was going to allow was different from what they were going to accept."
Official reason for leaving Resignation due to frustration.
Key quote on leadership lessons learned "It strikes me that we work towards the goal; once we get there, we're worn out and maybe it's not all we thought it would be."
Police Chief Subject #3: Chief C
City and Agency Background and Factual Information
Chief C's city is a long-standing industrial suburb of a major metropolitan area. In
describing his city, Chief C said:
Geographically, it was 34 square miles. Much of that was undeveloped; much of that was
new area up by (the airport). Population is 17,000, and really the core of the city was
probably seven square miles. That's where the majority of the population lived, and that's
where the heavy industry was located. A very high Hispanic population, probably in the
60% range, low income, blue collar.... Education level was, at best, high school
graduate. I think there was quite a few that had not completed high school education ...
has a graduation rate, when I left there, of less than 50% in the school district, and I think
that was indicative of what we were seeing from the parents of the children that were
dropping out; education wasn't important. Sales and use tax, and primarily, probably the
biggest economic engine was the use tax from some large companies that were located
in (the city)... the fifth largest trucking company in the United States, (a major oil
company), and then quite a few service-oriented industries... those kinds of larger
corporate (companies). In fact three or four Fortune 500 companies were located there,
so that provided the sales and use tax.
Chief C's city was a home-rule city, and the department provided police services with 50
"sworn" police officers and 25 "civilian positions." The city had a dramatic set of dual
characteristics. That is, it had the older parts of town, as already described, as well as vast
areas of land that were being developed in an upscale fashion with new neighborhoods, golf
course, and club houses.
Background and Factual Information Regarding Chief C
Chief C came into contact with the criminal justice system early in his life. As Chief C put
Well, I got started, I actually worked while I was going to college in a criminal justice
program. I worked at a youth detention center, because the hours were, I was on the
three-to-eleven shift, and primarily it was a jail if you will, for those that are under the age
of 16 ... and I was attending the (university) on the old LEAA Program. An then I got an
opportunity to take a job as a police dispatcher at a local police department, and I did that
and took the midnight shift and then continued to go to college, and then a better job in
the same city came up in the street department. That's my public works background ...
plowing snow... kind of a maintenance worker, and it really was a salary issue. Trying
to go to college, trying to live on my own, and those kinds of things. So then probably a
year after that, an opportunity came up in the sheriffs office there, and I went to work in
the sheriffs office and jail for about six months, then I moved to patrol and at about the
same time finished up college and began working my way up through the sheriff's office,
and its a little bit different in a sheriffs office. Theres three of them (in my home state)
that were under civil service, and this was the largest sheriffs office in (my home state),
and it was under civil service, and so everything was done on a competitive promotional
exam, and so I worked my way up to investigator, sergeant, lieutenant, and captain over
a period of 17 years.
Through the university and while not yet a police chief, Chief C earned a Bachelors
degree in Criminal Justice. While at the sheriffs office, he had many opportunities which
provided him with many varied experiences not usually had by the average city police
officer. When asked about the highlights and benchmarks of his career, Chief C said:
Well, yeah, OK, (I) moved through a series of ranks there, promotion based on
competitive exams. You, know, one of those was becoming an investigator. You know,
everybody who has ever been a street cop thinks you need to become a detective or an
investigator. So I had that opportunity, but that was done on a competitive exam basis if
you will. And there was a salary increase, and then after that, I became a sergeant and
ran a shift of officers. And then, at the time the county was looking at civil defense. It
was a separate area if you will, and the sheriffs office took on the civil defense function
in the county ... there was a director, an assistant director, and I think two clerical
positions, and I took it over, and all those positions went away. So (I) reported directly to
the County board, and it was kind of a good opportunity, because it was really a pretty
good management position, and to be able to go in and do a lot of change and blending,
if you will, and working on planning. Really picked the planning piece in that.
In addition to this background, Chief C had significant positions of responsibility in actual
policing. As a sergeant, he seemed to benefit from his civil-defense position with the county.
His career continued well past that:
And then I got promoted to lieutenant, and I think that was about in 1982, and again, that
was a competitive exam situation, and as a lieutenant, I had the opportunity to be in
charge of investigations, patrol, and administration. Kind of doing tours of duty in each of
those areas... then one of the things I ended up doing is we had a serial child killer...
and I ended up coordinating that case, which ended up being about 140 cops working on
it in a task force, and it ran from the middle of September until we caught the guy in the
middle of January. So that was a pretty large case, and that's a pretty good highlight...
And then I went to the FBI Academy in 1984 and got promoted two years after that to
captain, and I forgot a piece. Right before I got promoted to captain, while I was still a
lieutenant, I put together the enhanced 911 system for the county, and we did a lot of
consolidation of communication centers with other agencies and, in fact, ended
contracting law enforcement with two cities in the county. So ... it was kind of a lot of
municipal experience, if you will, in dealing with city councils and the kind of political
entities and working through those things.
Chief C makes a good point here, because he was able to parlay his career experiences
as a sheriffs officer into a career as a municipal police chief in a metropolitan area. It would
seem to be quite rare that a municipal city manager and/or mayor would access a county
sheriffs office for a city police chief. He tells of how he came to be appointed a chief:
And then, in about May of '90,1 got a call from the headhunter (names the firm) and they
said, "Gee, you ought to apply for this ... chief job. It sounds like its made for you." And
so I went through the process and accepted the job ... and actually kind of commuted,
because it took three months to extract myself out of everything I was involved in back
there ... and there were a lot of questions. "Well, hows the, you know, hows a sheriff
going to run a municipal police department?" And simply because I think the structure in
particular (the county) was very political, and I think everyone made an assumption that
maybe where I, the world I came out of, and it wasn't quite that way.... And so the
selection process, I'm trying to remember, was a series of interviews, and there were
some exercises that we went through. I think we spent two days going through the
exercises with the other candidates ... and I quite frankly dont know who the people
were who did the judging, but they were other police chiefs and other folks that actually
did the scoring or whatever, if you will, I mean, in the process... assessment center,
yeah, there you go, I forgot that word (term) already!
Reasons and Factors in Leaving the Position
Chief C had experienced a great deal in policing and the criminal justice system when he
resigned at the relatively young age of 44. Based on his multiplicity of experience, it was of
great interest to learn about his departure. When asked what the reasons or factors were in
leaving his police-chief position, he gave a complex and lengthy response:
Probably a combination of several things. I was tired. I'll be right upfront with that.
Probably tired most of dealing with personnel issues, because that seemed to be a
constant thing, and that was one of the reasons that I was brought to (the city). There
was some issues with a department that was lethargic, that was out-of-tune with the
community, that was out of step, that there was a number of disciplinary issues that
weren't being addressed or hadn't been addressed, and so I knew going into it that it was
going to be a lot of personnel issues to deal with, probably a lot of turnover. And my
assessment was correct.
In that first year there was a need to turnover the entire management staff and some of
the supervisor staff, and it was really the lack of abilities the people had, and it appeared
to me no desire in terms of change or to redirect their energies or to reeducate on where
the city wanted to go in terms of its police department and where they personally wanted
to be. And so, in dealing with a lot of those after six years, / was tired.
Another factor was is (that) there's two positions in (the city) that were required to live in
the city, and that was the city manager and the police chief. And from a personal
standpoint, you know. I've got two children, and they attended the public school system,
which we felt was pretty inadequate, and then there was discrimination issues which were
kind of interesting. It was a reverse situation, being in a Hispanic community, my
daughter came home probably a couple of times a week, in tears, being called a white
bitch, and so that was pretty tough. Gang members who lived three houses away decided
to have a shoot-out in the middle of the street at about four o'clock in the morning. So
my wife wouldn't let the kids ever play in the front street, front yard. And that's kind of
disheartening to be the police chief and have your wife tell you that she doesnt feel safe
living in the city, but thats the kind of community that we were dealing with. And we were
making some strides and changes obviously, but their "druthers" would not be to live
there. So there were some personal issues with that.
Then also, I think, (I) had an opportunity that many people don't have is (that) I became
the Interim City Manager for a period of six months, and during that time I got to work on
getting a new public works facility and actually purchased 16 acres necessary for that; set
into motion the bond issue to do the building of that; the renovation and the addition to
the rec. center; and then also the golf course ... and got a chance to work with
developers in securing land and getting the golf course bond issue structures under way,
and it kind of, those things intrigued me, and it kind of made me realize, you know, I'm
getting burned out in doing what I'm doing, and there's other things that I could do, and
so timing, I guess, was everything. The city manager that used to be in (the city) called
me and said, "I've got a public works position that you'd be perfect for. You've got
management skills and that's what we're looking for." And I told him that he was crazy,
that hed be fired, that certainly he could find a public works director that had some
background, and he ought to do that because people are going to say, "Well, you both
came from the same place." And, you know, I thought it would look kind of funny, and so
I kind of brushed that off, but it started me thinking, and I did think for a year and he
called me back and said, "This position's still open. By then I had made some real, I
think, soul searching in terms of what I want to do with my family, what I want to do with
my life, and how do I want to live out the rest of my life.
And I think for me and police work, you know, having been there, done that, I was ready
to move on to some other things, and my thinking was someday I'd probably like to be a
city manager, and what better experience can you have than being a police chief, a public
works director; I think certainly would give you a basis to be able to step up to the plate
and be able to manage a city. And having done the six months' interim (I) had a pretty
good idea, because we went through a lot of projects. That was also budget time, and
retreat with council, so we kind of got the whole gamut, if you will. So that's what really
made my decision to take the job as public works director.
From the interview data thus far, it seemed that Chief C clearly was very "tired" and that
the job offer in the other city was almost happenstance or a type of "serendipity." In asking
Chief C about this, relative to why he left his chiefs position, he said:
I was considering doing something else. Consideration obviously was another chiefs job
in a better community, what we perceived as a better community, and probably moving
up in size (of the department), if you will, because (I) think you, as a chief, you always go
through bigger might be better or that's how you work up the ladder. At least that's part of
what I was thinking at the time. And the other thing I was thinking at the time, maybe,
you know, and I had talked to some recruiters, what does it take to become a city
manager and that sort of thing, and so I was really thinking about, well, maybe I ought to
do an assistant manager somewhere and finish up the master's degree and, you know.
So I was kind of out exploring those things and looking through the job market, and I was
really trying to get a fix on what I wanted to do. One of the important things that drove
this decision, and it was a decision my wife and I made jointly, is where do we want our
kids to go to school. I think we felt like wed kind of done an injustice in terms of where
they were engaged in school at the time.
Leadership Lessons from Chief C
Chief C said that he "tended to think out loud" which "got him in trouble many times." He
said that the "command staff would take notes and implement things before they were really
thought through and worked through."
Chief C said that he originally thought he could put "more trust in people at higher
ranks ... I found it not to be the case." He said that many of his top people "weren't
management; they were still at the line level... in terms of who they talked to and where
their support was."
Chief C gave two more thoughts as lessons from the job. He said, "You can never figure
out the right things to worry about, so you shouldn't worry too much about them. You will get
blindsided, so don't damage your health by worrying." He also said that if a police chief must
live in town, that the chief is, "In a fishbowl... being watched all the time. This adds to the
stress of the job. Maybe chiefs should live out of town.
Trianaulation of the Data
Chief C's statements about his resignation from his chiefs position were verified and
corroborated through four separate sources. The first source was an article from the
February 13 edition of the local newspaper in the year in which he resigned. The headline
announced, "Police chief to leave post," and the article stated that the chief was leaving "his
career in law enforcement when he ventures into a new position." This same article
mentioned that his departure was "part of a goal to one day be a city manager," language
almost identical to that used by Chief C in his interviews. A second news source that
corroborated the story was an article written on March 7 in the year of Chief C's resignation.
This article was also from a local newspaper but in the city to which Chief C was coming to
take his new position. This article's headline was "(City) hires public works director." Chief
C, in speaking of his new position, is quoted as saying, "This appointment offers an
opportunity to grow personally, and it also affords my family and myself the ability to spend
more time together." It is clear that this statement echoes concerns voiced in the interviews
by Chief C.
A third source which can be used to triangulate the interview data was the Colorado
Association of Chiefs of Police newsletter. This newsletter was issued in the spring of the
year in which Chief C resigned and stated that Chief C "resigned to accept the position of
public works director."
The fourth source which corroborates the story of Chief C was an official press release
from the city that hired him as public works director. The press release, which was issued on
February 28 in the year of Chief C's resignation, confirms that Chief C was "Interim City
Manager for 6 months" at the city where he was police chief. The press release, as an
official document of the city manager's office, verifies Chief Cs story about leaving to take a
new position. From these four sources, the interview data received from Chief C was
triangulated from several different points, confirming the specifics of his departure story.
(See the profile in Table 4.3.)
Some Significant Facts and Features of Chief Cs Occupational Life History
Education Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice
Age upon leaving 44
Population of city 17,000
Description of city Suburban, industrial, trucking and oil industries. Older "blue-collar portions of city next to new development, open spaces, recreation centers.
Home rule/statutory Home rule
Size of department 50 peace officers/25 nonswom
Length of chief tenure 5 years, 6 months
Factors in leaving position Was tired. Tired of dealing with personnel issues. No desire on part of organization to change. Forced to live in city with inadequate school system. Danger to family and children at school and at home. Offered another position in city management with another city.
Key quote on becoming a chief I thought I had a lot to offer. Where I was at had no where else to go; no other challenges."
Key quote on leaving the position "Probably a combination of several things. I was tired. Tired most of dealing with personnel issues." "I was considering doing something else." "One of the important things that drove this decision is where do we want our kids to go to school."
Official reason for leaving Resignation due to accepting a position in another city.
Key quote on leadership lessons learned I tended to think out loud, which got me in trouble many times."
Police Chief Subject #4: Chief D
City and Agency Background and Factual information
The city that Chief D served was one of Colorado's growing resort areas. Chief D
described his city in this way:
The permanent population was around 2,500 people, but it serviced an average daily
population of about 11,000. Its the commercial hub of (the) county, which has three
major ski resorts, or two major and one minor ski resorts, and (the city) served as the
commercial hub. It was on I-70. There was a factory outlet store complex, the first in the
state of Colorado, and it serviced the mountain community in terms of UPS is based
there, Federal Express, Public Service a lot of companies that need warehouses or
industrial space. Due to the high cost in mountain ski towns, a lot of them had fairly large
facilities in (the city). Socioeconomically it was very mixed; we had million dollar homes
on a golf course ... down to, it had 11 trailer parks. Predominantly white. A few
Hispanics. Actually one of our largest minority groups were French West Africans ... the
Archdiocese of Denver has about a hundred-unit low-income housing complex there. So.
it was very, very mixed.
Chief D's city became a home-rule city while he was there, and he was supervised by a
city manager in a manager/council form of government. The police department had 16
"sworn" peace officers and 2 "civilian" positions.
Background and Factual Information Regarding Chief D
Similar to Chief C, Chief D became involved in the criminal justice system as a worker
very early in his adult life. He, too, was attending college when he secured his first job and
eventually earned a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and a Master's Degree in Criminal
Justice. As Chief D tells it:
I was a 21-year-old college student when I became a police officer. I was bom and raised
in Denver, went to school at the University of Colorado, and I was a junior in college when
I became a police officer for the (county) Sheriffs Office.... Ive been a police officer.
I've been in law enforcement about 14 or 15 years. I started with the (county) Sheriffs
Office; I was a patrol deputy there. I worked in detentions in the jail for a short time.
Then I went to (a large suburban city police department) where I was employed 12 1/2
years and really worked literally in every division they had and also in the chiefs office. I
worked as a patrol officer. I served as a crime prevention officer, school resource officer,
the PIO (public information officer), administrative aid to the Chief of Police, a detective,
a patrol sergeant, a detective sergeant; I worked both Investigations and Internal Affairs; I
was on the SWAT Team, both as an officer and a supervisor.
Chief D became a police chief while serving as a sergeant with a major and well-
respected city police agency in a metropolitan area. As has been demonstrated, he had a
very wide experience base in that agency, and he had completed his graduate education.
He was asked how it came to be that he was selected a police chief, and he made it clear
that he was applying to cities where he thought he could get a start as a chief. He eventually
became involved in a process where he was selected as the city's new police chief. He said
it happened this way:
(The city) had hired a headhunter; conducted a nationwide search, and had an
assessment center facilitated by the headhunter. It was a one-day assessment center
with, about five finalists were there. Up to that point the town manager and the
headhunter had done resume screening ... they started with an oral resume or graphic
resume. They had several leaderiess cooperative sessions. There was an oral board,
where the facilitators, the manager, the mayor, and the assessors acted as an oral board,
so that there was one candidate in front of the board. In all of the other exercises, all the
other candidates were present... when I was identified as the number one candidate out
of the assessment center, then I went back and had first an interview with the manager
and then followed by an interview with the City Council.
Reasons or Factors in Leaving the Position
Chief D was successful with these interviews and became a police chief for the first time.
He certainly seemed to be well prepared for a position in a smaller city. He had an
advanced degree, had served as a supervisor in every division in a major agency, worked
directly for the police chief of that agency, and specifically planned his search for a chiefs
job. His "pedigree" in policing was flawless. He accepted the position in the resort city and
left for another position at the age of 38. When asked why he left this position, he said this:
Career advancement. When I took that first job, it was a stepping stone. 1 realized I, I
was using that as a first chiefs job, and I had every intention of moving on to additional
chiefs jobs after that. The recruiter realized that; the town manager and even the council
realized that. That I wouldn't, you know, I was going to be there for awhile but, you know,
not a career chief, by any means, there.
Chief D was asked how the next position came about, and he said, "I was recruited to
another chiefs job." When asked for the specifics, he said:
The job I'm currently in, they also hired a headhunter who conducted a national search.
That headhunter, in addition to running national ads, which I did not respond to the ads,
he also sent out letters to police chiefs that he was familiar with and asked them if they
would forward the names of people who might be suitable candidates. And to my
knowledge, I know of at least three people who forwarded my name to the headhunter,
and the headhunter contacted me and asked me if I would be interested in applying.
Although this seemed to be quite the positive experience for Chief D, the city that offered
him his first chiefs job and gave him his start was now without a police chief after just 3
years, and they were required to initiate another complex and expensive recruitment process
to select a new chief. Wanting to follow up on this issue, Chief D was asked what the stated,
official, or public reasons were for him leaving his first chiefs job. He related it this way:
They were all the same. It was in the newspaper articles that it was a great opportunity
for me. The police department, both in terms of personnel and in budget, was three to
four times larger than the department I was currently in. There were some severe internal
problems that the City Manager there felt, based upon my performance at (the former
city), that I would be very well suited for. I was brought into (the former city) to make
some significant changes due to internal problems and (the new city) had some similar
problems. So, so I, I was very honest with everybody. Just said it was you know, I loved
what I was, I loved my first job; it was hard to leave, but it was, both for me personally
and professionally, to move on to (the new city) as was, it was stated, I mean, (the new
city's) a, its an international resort. I left, and usually whenever, if I was at a conference
or something and mentioned I was the Chief in (the former city), even if I said Colorado,
people would ask, "Well, where is that?. And when youre the Chief of (the new city),
everybody knows where (the new city) is. I kind of laugh about that, but it is really true.
Even in Europe, when you say youre the Chief in (the new city), people know
immediately what youre talking about. So, so it offered me, both careerwise and
personally, a great chance for some new opportunities; some real challenges; it seemed
like the next logical step in my career. In the 3-1/2 years I had been in my first chiefs
job, I had really kind of built the whole department up, and it was running well, and there
weren't a lot of challenges left to me there. It was, had good people, and it was running
very well. So it was kind of a logical time to move on.
Leadership Lessons from Chief D
When asked if he had any leadership lessons form his chief experience that he had
before leaving his chiefs position, Chief D responded, 'Tons of them." Specifically he had
When I look back, there are times when employees want to go off in a direction, or do
something that I knew wasnt the best or didnt agree with itbut when you empower
people, it may be the downside of empowerment-l went with what they wanted to do, but
now I regret that. I was really trying to find things to get buy-in from people. Now I look
back and say, "I never should have done that." Times when I know its not the best thing
to do, on little, smaller things, to give employees buy in, always taking the high road, I
really shouldn't sit back and (should say) this is wrong and not do it.
Chief D had more leadership thoughts relative to the relationship with the city manager
and the expectations involved regarding issues and job performance. He said:
With the city manager, talk up front about what we are going to do when a council person
gets arrested, or prominent citizens get tickets. Have a real discussion about any
potential issues that will cause faction between the city manager and the chief and how
you will deal with those issues. Discuss, "How much support?" and "How many
Chief D also noted that he "was not prepared to be a chief." He said, "I sat at my desk
the first day and said, 'Now what do I do?'"
Trianaulation of the Data
The information given by Chief D, that he resigned on his own to accept another police-
chief position, was verified through the use of six different sources: four newspaper stories
from different publications, an official press release, and the actual letter of resignation
written by Chief D and accepted by the city manager. The first news story appeared in the
county daily newspaper on November 30 in the year in which he resigned. The article
confirmed that Chief D "accepted the position of (the citys) new police chief." A second
news story appeared in a local daily city newspaper on November 30 in the year in which
Chief D resigned. The headline, "Chief takes top cop position, fronted an article which
stated that Chief D had been "hired" as the new police chief and that he "was selected from
a field of 260 applicants." This story supported both the claim by Chief D that he resigned
due to a new job and that he was involved in an extensive nationwide search.
In a third news story, published on December 1 of the year in which Chief D resigned,
another local city newspaper wrote, "After searching the world over, the town found what it
was looking for in its own backyard." The story also confirmed facts related by Chief D in the
data of his interview by noting, "He will head a department that is more than three times
bigger in terms of employees and budget than the one he currently runs."
A fourth news story, published on December 3 in the year in which Chief D resigned, was
published in the local city newspaper. The story said that the city had hired Chief D as its
new police chief and that he "will start on December 22
A fifth source of documentation which corroborates Chief D's story is the actual letter of
resignation submitted to the city manager of the city he was leaving. In this letter Chief D
states, "As you are aware, I have accepted the position of Chief of Police in (the new city)."
The sixth document found, which verifies the interview data, was the actual press release
issued by the city manager of the city to which Chief D was going to start a new job. In this
document the city manager states, "(Chief D) was named today to head ... the police
These six documents corroborate and verify the fact that Chief D did resign his position
as a police chief in order to accept a new police-chief position. This documentation
triangulates the data received in the interview process. (See Table 4.4 for a profile and key
features of Chief D's occupational life history.)
Some Significant Facts and Features of Chief P's Occupational Life History
Education Bachelor's degree in Political Science Master's degree in Criminal justice
Age upon leaving 38
Population of city 2,500 permanent11,000 daytime
Description of city Resort area next to interstate highway. Commercial hub for a recreation county. Dramatic mix of incomes and education levels.
Home rule/statutory Home rule
Size of department 16 peace officers/2 nonswom
Length of chief tenure 3 years, 5 months
Factors in leaving position Career advancement. To take a police-chief position in another city. Asked to apply by executive search firm.
Key quote on becoming a chief "Some of it came from my personality, I want to be in charge." "Goes back to the culture at the department. The seed was planted. You set your sights on being a police chief. It was natural."
Key quote on leaving the position "Career advancement." "When I took the first job, I knew it was stepping stone."
Official reason for leaving Resignation due to accepting a chief position in another city.
Key quote on leadership lessons learned "I wasnt prepared to be a chief. I sat at my desk the first day and said, What do I do now?" "So much of what a chief does is labor issues. "Have a real discussion about any potential issues that will cause friction between the manager and the chief and how you will deal with those issues."
Police Chief Subject #5: Chief E
City and Agency Background and Factual Information
The city that Chief E served as chief of police is a classic version of a tourist town close
to a national recreation area. Due to its locale, it not only derived business from the tourist
industry but also from its proximity to areas of Colorado which are experiencing explosive
growth. Chief E described his city this way:
As far as (the city) is concerned, the town itself probably has about 4,000 full-time
residents. The valley has about another 4,000, which we deal with daily. Summertime
population increases tremendously; we probably put close to 30,000 a day through the
town, being the eastern entrance to (a) national park. Educationally, it would be, I would
suspect that the general population with a lot of retired people here and a lot of
professional people, maybe higher than the national average. However, we have a lot of
people in entry-level positions too that work minimum-wage jobs, especially in the
summertime. We import a lot of people to work in the motels and restaurants, etc., etc.
its funny, I just heard of one whole crew is, came here from Bosnia! I thought that was
Chief E went on to say that his city was not a home-rule city but rather a "statutory" city
under Colorado state law. The city is surrounded by a mountainous recreation area, largely
federal land, but is within commuting distance to a major metropolitan area. When asked
about the size of his police agency, he said, "I believe we had 14 sworn and 10 nonswom, all
of which I swear at one time or another!"
Background and Factual Information Regarding Chief E
In terms of background, Chief E said that he started as a licensed embalmer in the state
where he would begin his police career. He did not have any military experience and did not
go immediately into policing from college as some chiefs had. In addition to embalming, he
worked in sales for a major department store, and these jobs took up 10 years between the
ages of 18 to 28. Chief E has earned an Associates' degree in Criminal Justice from a major
university in his state. When asked about his career highlights and career path, he had this
Gee, that would be hard to say. I started our crime prevention bureau. I headed up our
first K-9 division back in (his previous city). In connection with crime prevention, I cajoled
one of our mall owners into giving us space for public presentations in our crime
prevention pitch. We also ran a precinct out of that same facility, which was sort of an
outreach for us. It was the first one that we'd ever done.
Chief E was asked more specifically about any traditional police-career stops along his
career path and he added this information:
Well, initially (my city) was a highly political city. I got, I made sergeant three times,
because of turnover in administration, and then we finally got a merit system in, and I
made sergeant. I served as public information officer, crime prevention, and then I went
to uniform, and I was first up on the lieutenants list, and I was master sergeant on what
we called "C" shift, which was on nights, which I thought was something close to being
God. Because actually, you know, the top pick pretty much ran the shift, and they had
another political upheaval, and I don't know if you're interested in this or not, but a
Democratic mayor threw out his whole top police command. And said that he was, he
started the search for people within the department to take over, and my good friend and
I ended up one and two on the list, and he was the chief, I was the Assistant chief, and we
were both from an opposing administration. We were both republicans, which really
raised a lot of flack. So we had to do a general housecleaning.... I was a lieutenant for
one day and became the Assistant Chief of Police.
As a result of political upheaval. Chief E had become an assistant chief in a major
metropolitan police department outside of Colorado. Chief E eventually applied for his first
police-chief position, the job he eventually landed in Colorado; he was an assistant chief with
an associates degree. When asked how he achieved his first chiefs appointment (and his
last), he said;
Well, of course, I sent in a resume. The Town Administrator conducted a telephone
interview with me; followed up with another telephone interview the next day. He
followed up by him calling me the next day and saying, "Show up for an interview", which
I did, and the interview process was in front of the Town Administrator, the Town
Attorney, and the full Town board, who all got a piece of me. And I went back to the hotel
that night, got a call about four hours later, and the Town Administrator picked me up and
offered me the position. It was that quick.
After this whirlwind recruitment and selection process. Chief E would be the chief in this
growing town for 8 years, resigning at the age of 56.
Reasons and Factors in Leaving the Position
Chief E resigned on his own. Upon being asked about the main reasons or factors that
caused him to leave his position, he stated:
The main factor, I think, was frustration with the town administration that had no concept
and no desire to have a concept of what the police mission is or should be. Their people
were underpaid, overworked, and that caused a great deal of difficulty within the
department, I think, and the Town Administrator was very plain in telling me that as far as
anybody was concerned, that was my fault, not his. I had a town administrator who wants
to run the whole town; tried to tell me what we needed. More concerned with outside
appearances than the true function.... I didnt get fired.
In order to learn what the community knew about his situation, a question was asked
about what the official or public reasons were for his leaving. He said:
The stated reasons were health and personal reasons. I just decided one day that I didn't
look healthy. Don't I look healthy now? I'm sure I could still be there, (but it) affected my
health. I decided I had enough.... I woke up one day and said, "I don't even want to go
into that damn place." My health was in jeopardy. My thyroid died, and I became
diabetic, had high cholesterol. A good part of it was due to the stress of the job. Health
was an issue. The job made physical issues that much worse. I feel much better now.
It seems clear that there were at least two equally compelling reasons for Chief E's
resignation: his frustration with the town administrator and his health.
Leadership Lessons from Chief E
When asked about any leadership lessons that he would like to relate as a result of his
police-chief experience. Chief E articulated these lessons:
I think more communication. Chiefs have to learn to rely on their command staff but at
the same time not let the staff build a wall between the chief and the officers. This
requires a real balance. It's a tough act. I think it's easy for mid-management to isolate
the chief. Once the chief is isolated, hes a dead duck. It's very difficult to be a police
chief I think... to accomplish ... unless he's fully backed by administration that will give
him authority and responsibility. I wonder why they hire (chiefs)... then not listen to
Trianoulation of the Data
Chief E's interview data were verified by four separate documents located in the
research. These documents include two separate news stories, the actual letter of
resignation written by Chief E and submitted to the Town Administrator, and a letter from the
Town Administrator to Chief which summarizes details of the resignation. The first
newspaper account, published in the February edition of the local newspaper of the year in
which Chief E resigned, had a headline that announced, "Police chief quits." The article
confirmed that Chief E would "take an early retirement" and that the Board of Trustees
accepted his "resignation with regret." The second new story was published on March 3 of
the same year which recounted the events of the chiefs career. The article stated that the
chief "steps down as chief of police."
A third source of verification is the actual letter of resignation submitted to the Town
Administrator on February 23 of the same year. In this letter Chief E clearly writes his
intention: "Due to health and personal concerns, I resign my position as Chief of Police."
This sentence is identical to language used in the interview about the public reasons given
for his resignation.
A fourth source of corroboration of Chief Es interview data is a letter dated March 14 of
the same year. This letter is addressed to Chief E from the Town Administrator. It says, in
part, "The town will accept, with regret, your resignation." This official city document clearly
substantiates Chief Es interview data as well. Taken as a whole, this set of documents
triangulates the data found in the interview process. (See Table 4.5 for a synopsis of Chief
Es occupational life history.)
Some Significant Facts and Features of Chief E's Occupational Life History
Education Associates' degree in Criminal Justice
Age upon leaving 56
Population of city 4,000 permanent; 8,000 daytime; 30,000 seasonal
Description of city Mountain gateway to national recreation land. Tourist town with significant tourist industry. Professional commuters, retirees, service workers.
Home mle/statutory Statutory.
Size of department 14 peace officers/10 nonswom
Length of chief tenure 8 years, 0 months
Factors in leaving position Frustration with Town Administrator. Health and personal reasons.
Key quote on becoming a chief "1 like police work. 1 like working with people." "Looking to move on and do different things-change things."
Key quote on leaving the position 'The main factor, 1 think, was frustration with the town administration that had no concept of what the police mission is or should be. "My health was in jeopardy. A good part of it was due to the stress of the job."
Official reason for leaving Resignation due to health and personal reasons.
Key quote on leadership lessons learned "1 think more communication. Chiefs have to leam to rely on their command staff but at the same time not let the staff build a wall between the chief and the officers." "1 wonder why they (administrators) hire chiefs ... then not listen to them.
Police Chief Subject #6: Chief F
City and Agency Background and Factual Information
Chief F was asked to describe his city in terms of population, demographics, geography,
economics, and education level. He described it this way:
You expect that I know all of that stuff? (laughing). All right. University community of
approximately 95,000 people; 23,000 to 24,000 of those are students. By and large very
low minority numbers, Hispanic being the largest at about 6 or 7 %; black is 1% or less,
and Asian about 2 %, I think. Education level is above the norm. I'm not exactly sure
what it is, but it's a well-educated community. Has the reputation of having the highest
ratio of (Ph.D.s) in the country. The economics of it, its an employment center; the in-
migration on a daily basis is about double the out-migration. In other words, there are
about twice as many people coming into (the city) to work as there are leaving (the city)
to work other places, which (means) something (about) jobs per person isn't very high.
Surprisingly, though, it does have a lot of people living below the poverty line, which is
not a perception of (the city), and the minority community that does live in (the city) feels
pretty disenfranchised in this community.
Chief F served a well-educated, professional university community which functions as a
technological and educational employment center. The department is comprised of 150
"sworn" police officers and 70 "nonswom" members.
Background and Factual Information Regarding Chief F
Chief F is another example of a person who came into contact with policing very early in
his adult years. As he said, I was just barely bom when I started policing." He went on to
I started policing with the (major city) police department when I was 19 years old. (The
city) used to hire at 19, so I was one of those 19-year-old patrolmen. Actually when I got
out of, I started the academy when I was 19, and when I graduated the academy, I was
20. And prior to that I was a student, at the university (of his home state). You know, I
did the typical odd jobs, so I really didn't have a career background other than being a
student prior to going into policing.
Chief F then embarked upon a police career at a very early age, and having earned a
Bachelors degree in Business Administration and Accounting, he made stops at many of the
typical police ranks along the way to becoming a police chief. As he said, "I came up
through the ranks." Specifically, Chief F described his career path this way:
So I started out as a patrolman. Was a patrolman for five years, including working an
undercover assignment for a year. Intelligence, I was a detective, a robbery detective,
for three years. In (the city) detective and sergeant were parallel ranks, and I went the
detective route instead of the sergeant route. Then I was a lieutenant. Had several
assignmentspatrol, records. Then I was a captain in the patrol division, of about 350
officers. Served a population of 250,000 in a 70 square mile area. Was a captain in the
burglary and theft division ... so I was a captain over the Detective Division. About 60
detectives working on a 10,000 a month caseload, which was crazy. I was promoted to
deputy chief, but it was actually just a one-day promotion. I was appointed. I jumped
from captain to assistant chief. The rank structure in (the city) was chief, assistant chief,
deputy chief, captain, lieutenant, and (the Chief of Police), although he technically
promoted me to deputy chief, that was for civil service protection, he jumped me over the
deputy chief rank to ... assistant chief. I was Assistant Chief of Field Operations, which
was all the uniformed operations, and was about 3,400 officers. I was that for 4 years,
and then I took the chiefs job in (this city).
With this extensive police background in a major city in mind, I asked Chief F how he
came to consider being a chief for the first time, and he said that he "needed a change" and
that the new chiefs job seemed "like a good transition," part of a "multitude of reasons for
wanting to become a police chief where he was indeed appointed. Making this transition
from an assistant chief of a very large agency to a chief in a smaller agency begs the
question of how he achieved his appointment to his chiefs job. Chief F described the
selection process this way:
Yeah, it was a fairly standard application. (They) culled the applications down to a pool of
only, I imagine, about 20 or 25 or so. Then a video presentation. They sent us out
questions that we had to respond to on video. The group was culled to a semifinal group
of eight, which was brought in to rounds of interviews that are pretty typical-a community
panel, council panels, professional panel, and that group of eight was then narrowed to a
group of three-two outsiders and one insider-and a selection was made from the group
of three by the City Manager, and the process took about 7 months.
With this background information established, Chief F was asked what he believed were
the reasons or factors in leaving his chiefs position. His answer was extensive, and he
related this story:
Well, it's kind of complicated in answering that question. When I took this job, the
concern was that I wouldn't stay, because I was actually bred to be a major city chief.
That's what my development was in (this) business, and so the concern in (the new city)
was that I would leave pretty quickly to go to another job. People don't understand that I
had turned the chiefs job in (his prior major city) down. I moved around a lot, and the
reason I did that is I decided that policing was in need of significant change. We had
undertaken a significant change process in (his prior city) that we didn't, there was no way
we could change the total culture of policing in (that city) within the life span of any chiefs
ability to be chief. And so I thought that the only place to go and create models for
change was the smaller departments where you could do, you could implement, design
and implement enough change that it could be done within the possibility, the time that's
used ... and so I was committed to (the new city), and I said this publicly, when I came
here, that I would commit (to the city) for 5 years. I would not leave before I had been
here 5 years, so I thought, anything short of that, we were just coming in, yanking things
around. Didn't give them time to root. That I was worried about... implementing long-
lasting change, but that I would not stay here longer than 8 years. My rationale for that is
that if you cant get it done in 8 years, you're not going to get it done and just ride it out,
and you owe it to the organization to get out of the way and let somebody else have their
shot at what needs to be done next.
This information was really establishing the context or setting for Chief Fs overall situation.
He continued speaking and became more specific about how and why he left his position:
So what led to me leaving was that I was, that I'm in that time frame of between 5 and 8
years, and we're closing in on the eight-year time line, and I announced last November,
that I would be leaving at the end of 1998, so 6 months roughly today. But what
happened in (the city) was the disruption of events that have occurred the last year put an
incredible amount of pressure on the community and the department, on the
administration of the department and on me personally in the department. And those
things are pretty well known. A major homicide investigation, significant rioting by
students, a significant increase in heroine overdose deaths, some, a couple other not-so-
high profile but very traumatic homicides in the community, and this is a community that
averages one homicide a year, and normally those are the typical, you know, there's a
relationship involved, and there's a crime of passion, and these are two high profile "who-
done-its and one very brutal relationship ... an overdose, and an in-custody death. Just
a lot of really traumatic things, a no confidence vote (by the police union) and so there's a
lot of feeling in the community that things were just out of sorts.
The most significant event that has led to my actually leaving early, because Im not
leaving the position 6 months earlier that I had indicated I wanted to, the most significant
event contributing to that is a changeover in the political structure of the city-the political
leadership of the city. The Mayor was in office for 8 years and was a strong supporter of
mine, decided not to seek another term. She endured some health problems-cancer,
breast cancer... so she decided (on) that change. And the firing of the City Manager,
who was the person that hired me and also one of my strong supporters. And with the
Mayor leaving and a new mayor coming in, weve had three acting city managers, the
current Acting City Manager, who was vying for the position of City Manager actually (saw
that this) is the opportunity for the City Manager to resolve the issue of the chief, and so,
he made the decision to accelerate my, uh, the selection of my replacement.
Initially what I had tried to do, and told people, because it had been an issue for about a
year when I was going to leave. The media's been killing, and facts of the media around
the investigation of this homicide, because I would not cooperate with the media and give
them everything they wanted, they announced to me that they would "run me out of here,"
and so theres speculation that they (did) exactly what was communicated. And so they,
there's been speculation about my leaving and some suggestion in the papers that I ought
to leave, and so we try and quell some of that. I told people when I made the decision
that my departure was impending and when I made the decision exactly when it would be.
I'd let people know. So I let people know in November of 1997-1 announced it for two
reasons: one, because the union was considering doing another vote of no confidence or
reaffirming a vote of no confidence, and I was trying to give the union, the union had kind
of backed themselves in a comer (on the) issue of no confidence. They never went
public with what their issues were. They never released what they voted on to the public.
The reason they didn't do that is because it was so, it would have been so illegal, (the)
issues they had voted on, and the community would have rebelled against them, because
of what they were voting on, which had nothing to do with anything.... The second
reason was that because the City Manager had done, the city manager selection process
was ongoing, and there was a timetable for that. That the new City Manager was
projected to come on board, in fact, he is coming on board the first of July. I've
announced that I would leave at the end of the year. Thinking that would give the new
City Manager a couple of months to get acclimated to the community and then have four
or five months to do the selection process, so there would be a natural, normal transition
(in the) administration. So that's a long answer to a short question ... and I hope that
made some sense.
Wanting to put this complicated answer and situation in the best context possible, another
important question was asked of Chief F, which concerned what the "official" or stated
reasons were for his departure. He answered by saying:
The stated reasons, actually the way it played out in public was that it was my decision to
go ahead and leave. That is partially true. When the City Manager and I sat down, we
sat down and had a lot of conversations about the issues right at this point. In fact, I told
the Acting City Manager, when he first took the job, that I would be a liability to him and
that if necessary, if he thought it needs to be done, just to let me know, and we would
work something out to transition the department. The first couple of times we talked
about that it wasn't something he was interested in doing, but when he finally decided that
he wanted to do it, he sat me down and basically said (that he had met with) the Council
and that they had transitioned me out. I said, "Fine, all we've got to do is work out the
transition." And at that point in time it became my responsibility from my perspective to
make it work in the least destructive way possible. So they basically announced and I
supported that he thought it was in the best interest to set a time process, and I supported
him in that. I said I supported him in that. The only (thing) that got a little weird about it
was that I had an employment agreement with the city; I have an employment agreement
with the city, and it is not a big deal, but it basically says that if I am terminated for other
reason(s), any reason other than woeful and wanton (conduct), you know malfeasance,
that they owe me four months compensation to allow me time to transition. And because
the city, because the Council had failed on a (prior contract) and we were having to honor
the employment agreement of the (former) City Manager, who had just been fired, he had
a much better one, they had to buy him out a year. There was a mixed view on the
Council. I'm not sure exactly what the numbers were in terms of how many supported
what, but there was a consensus that they did not want to buy me out and some talk,
some conversation, with me involved ... that they were just going to fire me and not
honor my agreement, and I simply said that wouldn't be a smart thing to do. It would lead
to a lot of disruption and problems, and the city would probably end up owing me a lot
more money, and so we reached an accommodation that was that I would, continue to the
end of the year and in another job capacity at the city. Having gone through this (I
thought) okay, and this summer I'll be working on a couple of projects in the city and out
of the city, or until I decide ... that's an .. issue of transitioning and deciding what I
want to do.
For clarification purposes, and with a need to be comprehensive, Chief F was asked if he
was actually in a position to decide how and when to leave his chiefs position. His thoughts
were perhaps the most compelling and incisive of any of the data gathered. He said:
Yeah. I could have fought this off, because the fact of the matter is that there's no, there
are no grounds to fire me. The last employment, the last performance evaluation I have
says I walk on water and talk to God on a regular basis. And so the city is somewhat in a
bind on that issue. And I also have this constituency group in the city that when the
announcement was made that I was being replaced early, stepped forward and wanted to
take it on, and I interceded, and basically asked them not to do that. Because that would
be just more disruptive and that this needed, for everybody's benefit-mine, I didn't need
any more trauma; the city didn't need any more trauma; the department didn't need any
more trauma, stress, and (this) was everybody's. I was leaving at some point in time in
the next year anyhow, that what everyone needed to focus on was making the transition a
smooth transition, and one of the things that, in my discussions with the City Manager
about leaving, my suggestion to him was that they give (thought to) an internal pick, that
it was time for (the city) to internally choose with some 20 years of outside choosing, it
was time for them to internally choose (a police chief), and that fulfilled my last
commitment to the department and to the community.
When I came here, one of my commitments was that I would raise or develop a pool of
candidates that would be competitive to be my successor. That's happened ... that
makes this whole thing pretty upbeat and rewarding, and that's, chiefs always know, I
mean chiefs don't feel upset at best about NFL coaches ... you've heard me say that its
not a matter of if, it's a matter of when. And so we all know that, we all know we face this
thing of being dumped, and even though, but even though you know it and understand it,
going into it, you never know how its going to happen, and you never like it, and it's never
really fun when it happens, but it's part of the deal.
Leadership Lessons from Chief F
When asked about any leadership lessons or thoughts that he might have as result of his
experience, Chief F had some sobering, yet incisive thoughts. His words perhaps have merit
and deserve consideration as they seemingly have vast implications for policing as well as
What I've thought about recently, having been in contact with Herman Goldstein, (is that)
your and my peer group recognized policing needed to take some evolutionary steps.
What we're running up against now, due to the media involvement with the image of
"hook 'em and book 'em policing, is taking us back to the 50s and 60s. So, I think that
the point is that it's going to continue to be very difficult for chiefs to move the profession
in the face of the media portrayal of policing. "Hook 'em and book 'em" is what the public
now thinks they want.
The next generation of chiefs maybe will be dealing more locally and with different
issues. We are returning to the 60s, perhaps losing some gains we made with
disenfranchised members of the community. We had the notion we could change
policing; that's what we took on. Its a young man's game (being a police chief). I don't
think someone in their 50s or 60s will get a serious look.
People have to understand the dynamics of it (being a police chief). You can't marry it.
It's a fleeting thing. It will be taken away from you. Focus on 5 years. This job does suck
the energy out of you.
Trianoulation of the Data
Copious amounts of print news stories regarding Chief Fs situation were found during the
research which substantiates data from the interview of Chief F. For this study, two city
documents and three news articles were selected that best represent the key features of the
data received from Chief F in the interview process. The first city document was a
memorandum from the City Manager to Chief F dated May 2, which outlined the conditions
of his police-chief employment. As was found in the interview data, this memorandum
indeed stipulated that Chief F would receive a "severance benefit if he was "terminated
from employment for any reason other than gross misconduct." This language is almost
identical to the language used in the interview by Chief F when describing the "bind" that his
city was in when forwarding the termination of Chief F.
A second official city document was located by the researcher which is titled "Settlement
and Release." This document was signed by the Acting City Manager and Chief F on April
16 of the year in which he was replaced. The document outlines the conditions of Chief Fs
departure from his position, indemnifies the city, and "holds it harmless," thereby receiving a
release from Chief F concerning future or further action regarding what amounted to his
dismissal. The document states that Chief F "irrevocably resigns his employment" and
"hereby resigns as police chief." Chief F, according to the document, "accepts employment
as a special assistant to the City Manager... through December 31,1998." After this date.
Chief F is presumably released by the city in terms of employment.
A metropolitan newspaper article, dated September 22 of the year before Chief Fs
departure, substantiates his portrayal of the police-union vote of no confidence. This news
piece states that "officers held a vote of no confidence in his leadership" thereby verifying
one of the factors as articulated by Chief F in the interview data.
A second news story, published in the June 24 edition of a major metropolitan newspaper
in the year of Chief Fs departure, announces the selection of a replacement police chiefthe
successor to Chief F. In this article the reporter notes that the new chief "replaces" Chief F,
who was now out of office.
Yet another or third news account substantiates Chief Fs account. The June 24 edition
of the local newspaper announces the selection of the new police chief. Chief F's
replacement. The new police chief is indeed an internal candidate, one of five candidates,
according to this source, that "vied for the position of embattled Chief (F)."
These five documents, two official city documents and three separately published news
articles, corroborate the key features of Chief Fs story as he told it and constitute a
triangulation of the data. The key facts and features of Chief F's occupational life history
profile are found in Table 4.6.
Some Significant Facts and Features of Chief Ps Occupational Life History
Education Bachelor's degree in Business Administration
Age upon leaving 48
Population of city 95,000
Description of city University community with low minority resident figures. Employment center with increase in daytime population. Service workers, educational and technology employment.
Home rule/statutory Home rule.
Size of department 150 peace officers/70 nonswom
Length of chief tenure 7 years, 1 month.
Factors in leaving position Change in political structure and political leadership of city. Numerous events in jurisdiction: student riots, unsolved famous child homicide, in-custody death, etc. Vote of "no confidence" by police union.
Key quote on becoming a chief "Needed a change." "Sounded like a good transition." Trying to show that there were different ways to do things."
Key quote on leaving the position "So what led me to leaving was ... the disruption of events that have occurred in the last year put an incredible amount of pressure on the community, department, and me." The most significant contributing event is a changeover in the political structure-the political leadership in the city." "A no confidence vote.
Official reason for leaving "My decision to ... leave early." That is partially true.
Key quote on leadership "People have to understand the dynamics of it (being a police chief). You cant marry it. It is a fleeting thing. It will be taken away from you. (So) focus on 5 years. This job does suck the energy out of you."
Police Chief Subject #7: Chief G
City and Agency Background and Factual Information
Chief G served a very unique community as chief of police. While his city is located right
in a major metropolitan area, it has a relatively small population and some peculiar
characteristics that make it not just another suburb. Chief G described it this way:
Okay, (the city) is a small community. Population estimates about 5,000. Definitely a
blue-collar community. It was actually one of the oldest cities in Colorado, over a
hundred years old. Light industry; some residential obviously, but again, I would
consider it lower economic (level). City administrator form of government, seven
member council. Not huge voter turnouts. A vocal minority; its always there at council
meetings, so there is some involvement in the community but not a broad base but not
unusual for most (small cities). The (police) department size, Im trying to think,
commissioned was 18, and we had about 3 civilian employees. The department
financially was always strapped-city government was always strapped.... So financially
the city has been really on the brink of financial disaster probably for the last, I would
guess, last 7 to 8 even 10 years.
Revenues from industry; they have bars; they have, what really damaged the city was
that "Pace" (a large discount store), it was the warehouse located there; they increased
city government size, got that building, all during the time when Pace was providing them
with over a million dollars a year in taxes. When they folded, that income source dried
up, and they had a pretty major reduction in city staff. There was no police chief when I
came and had (not) been one for a year and a half. They had an acting police chief, and
they have a public safety director, a position that they created.
Chief Gs city was a statutory city according to Colorado state law, not a home-rule city as
most of the metropolitan area cities near to it. For a few months Chief G served as both the
Chief of Police and the City Administrator in a council/manager form of government. He
accepted the job as Chief in August; by February of the very next year, a short 7 months
later, he left the city for another position at the age of 48.
Background and Factual Information Regarding Chief G
Chief G had a social services background before becoming a city police officer and was a
supervisor in a major city agency before moving through a series of career changes that led
to his first police-chief job. This first chiefs job, which he left in just 7 months, is the one
examined in the research of this study. In speaking of his career before city policing. Chief
Before entering police work, I was a social worker in (a southern state), first for the state
and then for the county school district.... I was a protective services worker; I was a
child abuse investigator for the state, and so my interest was in law enforcement, and I
was in an enforcement role. With the school district, I was not; for a year I took kind of a
sabbatical working in academic at a special needs school. Then tested for (police
officer), I wanted to get out of the south, I think. I wanted to get back in California,
wanted to get back to the western part of the country. Had one child and so I applied to
(a major Colorado metropolitan) police department. I was hired in 1977, August of '77.
Chief G became a supervisor at this city police department where he was first hired, and
through a unique lateral transfer situation, he wound up as a captain and second in
command at another metropolitan police agency across town. He speaks of his career path
and the highlights along that path:
Police (officer) in 1977. I went to investigations ... oddly enough juvenile
(investigations), and I was assigned child abuse investigations ... sergeant was, sergeant
would have been '81. And then in about '89, '90 I became the K-9 Team Supervisor, the
first K-9 Team Supervisor for (my city). And then tested for and got the position as the
first captain and second in command in (another) city. The first time they'd had a captain
and was a second in command in (the other city) PD ... January of '92, (the other) Citys
first police captain ... It was just titled Second in Command. Then I was the Acting Chief
there for 6 months. That would have been the first half roughly, actually it was the last
portion of '94 and first portion of '95, I was Acting Chief, went back to my captain role ..
went back to my captain's position. I maintained that until I got to (the city where he first
became police chief).
Chief G had earned two Associates' degrees, a Bachelors degree in Sociology, and a
Master's degree in Organizational Behavior. With these academic credentials and his police
qualifications in hand, he tested for his first chiefs position. He responded to a query about
what selection process was used to arrive at his appointment as chief:
Initially it was a preliminary interview with the city; actually it was the Public Safety
Director, but it encompassed the City Administrator, Fire Chief, Police Chief-one person,
and I was the first police (chief applicant), they had the vacancy; they had an acting
police chief. He'd been fired, so they had a gap with no leadership. So I was, went to an
oral board involving co-members of City Council, some other police chiefs from other
departments, and came out number one on that list. However, there was controversy.
The Acting City Administrator or these, whatever he was called, (safety) director, was, the
council was divided, and so there were two, I came in twice for a vote of Council, and
they kept postponing it, because they didnt have a full contingent there. I came in on a
four-three vote. It was not related to me, but it impacted me, clearly. It was related to
whatever the City Administrator wanted, three of the votes didnt want. I was grilled
unmercifully by the members who were opposed to the selection process.... I had too
much education, from a big city, all those kinds of things... the criticisms.
Reason and Factors in Leaving the Position
In fact. Chief G left his position very soon after arriving in order to take another position in
another city police agency. There were many additional factors or considerations in a
complicated scenario. He described his situation:
Well, what we should add is that after a number of months that first year with the city I
became Acting City Administrator. So I was in charge of the Fire Department, Police
Department, and city government, and the first day on the job I had to lay off, close down
Public works, so I could start laying off personnel. So it was kind of a new challenge I
had as the police chief. For me, it was a real tough decision, because the department
came a long way. We made a lot of progress. When I came, we had two cars running.
When I left, they had a full fleet. We had reserve ranks backup, and morale was up.
Had some promotions. Helped some other, some employees find new careers outside
law enforcement.... When I left, they came in and measured the plaque that I got from
(my prior) city, and made sure the one they gave me was larger, and that's pretty
impressive with 7 months of service ... In the end, they talked about how I had brought
integrity back to the department. So many felt that it was not there. So I felt pretty good
With these seemingly positive items as a context. Chief G answered more specifically about
why he left this situation:
So, frankly, the reason to leave was that I was recruited by another department. I did not
apply and would not have applied. I was approached by (his former) city, by the city of
(name). The City Manager called me and said, "Would you be interested?" And my city
government and my staff and city council, even the ones that liked me, said I'd be a fool
if I didn't take it, because the salary was about $20,000 above, so it a substantial salary
increase. And on the surface, opportunities in terms of, (his city) was a closed
community; there wasn't a chance for growth; it was on the (street name) corridor, but
the (new) city clearly has the opportunity to grow substantially, so we sized an opportunity
to go back and trOy and make a difference.
It seems clear that, even with the "early wins" and quick successes, Chief G was in an
unusual chiefs situation given the financial constraints, combined positions, layoffs, and
over-involvement of the City Council. It would be natural to ask if Chief G might have
sought to move on even if an offer of another position had not come out of the blue. Chief G
was asked if there was anything in his situation that "would have caused him to move on
anyway." Evidently there was, because he elaborates:
The city, the city is very tom. The council, the politics, the reality of politics I think makes
that job stressful, and so I will tell you that I dont know how long it would have lasted past
7 months, because it was a constant questioning of: Why are spending money? Why are
police cars out there? Why are police gone from the station? ... and the smaller the
community, I suspect, actually I thought, the more of that. City Manager? A lot of time
spent having to justify what you were doing and a lot of time not so much telling them
what you needed but finding a way that they would understand why you needed it. So
you spent a lot of time translating, and this is very blue collar. Quite frankly, I made more
money than probably all but three or four of the community made, which was the salary.
So there's already a resistance there on the part of Council members who never made
that kind of money.
For elaboration purposes, the researcher stated to Chief G, "You said that you may not
have lasted much past 7 months anyway given the politics of the city." This caused even
more data to come forth regarding his situation:
Politics and pressure. I was putting in easily 65 to 70 hours a week.... Pressure. Time.
The time constraints. And I'll be quite frank, limited resources. The community did not
have the resources to provide or it was challenging for it to provide full services; full
police service 24 hours a day. So I think to maintain, recruiting was difficult because of
the, because of the nature of the department. The reputation was not good metrowide.
And see, you had a hard time attracting and keeping well-educated, sophisticated police
officers.... One of the things that, you know, (was) the limited resources, the reputation
of the community, and I think the question in everybodys mind: Would the city continue
going? Would the department continue going? So there was always that fear of the
other shoe dropping. And I've, you know, when I was in (my prior city), there was a
feeling we'd disincorporate 20 years ago. So, I think the love-hate relationship is clearly
a key for me, the love-hate relationship between the city government, the community,
and their law enforcement agency is so different than the fire or anybody else. So I think
thats, that bit of, I think that probably my, my guess was, when I got there, two years max
probably (of chiefs tenure in that city).
It seems plausible that Chief G's stay in his city would have been short lived, at best, just
as he stated. The likelihood of a long tenure in the situation that he described is a longshot
at best. Nonetheless, he was gone from his position in 7 months officially because of a
another job offer but, realistically, also because of the factors that were just articulated:
pressure, stress, time, and lack of resources. From all of this, as well as his education and
other experience, leadership thoughts were available to Chief G.