Councilor suggests bringing supervision of chief under council
Stephen McKinney made a comment at end of a recent Newberg City Council meeting left some in the room gobsmacked.
"We need to place the chief of police under the care of the council," the council member said.
In July 2015, then-City Manager Jacque Betz made allegations against Police Chief Brian Casey and placed him on paid administrative leave. Then Betz herself was placed on administrative leave by the council days after she suspended Casey, who was reinstated soon after. In August of that year the council unanimously accepted Betz's resignation. In November 2015, the city found no misconduct by the police department or by Casey that warranted Betz's actions.
"I am relieved these lingering issues have been concluded," Casey said in a statement when his name was cleared.
Since the turmoil, some believe the relationship between city hall and Casey has not quite been renewed.
"The subject of changing the supervision of Police Chief Casey under the city manager to the city council has been discussed since the dismissal of Jacque Betz," McKinney said.
Casey and his predecessors are under the supervision of the city manager, as is typical for small towns like Newberg. In larger cities like of Portland, the chief of police is supervised by elected, paid commissioners.
Changing supervision of the chief from the city manager to the council would require the council to pass a charter amendment and then go to a vote of the electorate. The city charter has been revised four times in the past 125 years.
"From time to time, though, city staff challenges us about our confidence in their abilities to handle the sensitive areas of positions like the chief," McKinney said. "This has always been a lingering thing among council members. We need to require a change in the city charter; to make him responsible under the council. The staff would still have to coordinate their records concerning the police department with the city attorney, who is separate from everybody else."
"I made that as my parting remarks … This was one of things that I would have liked to see included," added McKinney. "There's a great deal of support for the action that I am purposing."