The Mistake Of Ending Civil Service Protection
Photo Courtesy: The Target Group
The first day Fort Smith (AR) Police Chief took office this January he said to “get ready, change is coming.”
Not many knew what Police Chief Nathaniel Clark meant but last week they may have gotten a first glimpse.
Chief Clark, twice retired from other agencies, asked the Civil Service Commission to give him permission to hire sergeants and above from outside the department.
The members of the commission denied Clark’s request.
The request was odd and a possible sign of what is to come in the second largest agency in the state. The Fort Smith Police Department has an excellent reputation with good men and women so why would a new chief not want to promote within the agency?
While the request was denied, Fort Smith Board of Director Andre Good is asking for support of his fellow directors in dissolving the Civil Service Commission “as soon as possible.”
We’ve seen a lot of things here at Law Officer and we have certainly seen the worse of the worse when it comes to law enforcement leadership and if this is what it looks like today, the fine men and women at the Fort Smith Police Department better take cover.
If the Civil Service Commission is eliminated, they will not have a police chief anymore.
They will have a dictator.
Police officers will no longer have an appeal or grievance procedure and any rights they currently have under the Commission would be gone.
Personally, why would Chief Clark even pursue this? Much can be said about “setting the tone” as a new leader and this was not a tone but a shot across the bow.
Lawsuits and controversy are nothing new to Clark and we don’t hold this history to him as sometimes a chief can do nothing wrong and still end up in the headlines but this request followed by what appears to be a concerted effort to eliminate a Civil Service Commission, that has operated for decades, is certainly concerning.
We will be watching and we wish Chief Clark the best and it is our hope that he leads the men and women of the Fort Smith Police Department with honor and that should start with utilizing the same procedures and rules that every chief has used for decades.