Officials react to summary of police department survey
May 8, 2008
City officials past and present reacted Thursday to a Tribune news story that detailed findings in a consultant’s summary report about the South Lake Tahoe Police Department.
The summary, created in October by Riverside-based consulting firm Taylor-Nelson LLC, included results that indicated police staff lack confidence in the department’s senior management.
The report stated that Police Chief Terry Daniels “inherited the liabilities of former Police Chief Don Muren,” though on Thursday, Muren declined to comment until he had more information.
“I certainly don’t have anything to hide,” Muren said, adding, “I’d like to see the report.”
South Lake Tahoe Mayor Mike Weber complimented Daniels and said as mayor, he would value a similar analysis of the entire city.
“I would applaud Chief Daniels for actually going out and doing this kind of 360 internal review,” Weber said. “A lot of bosses wouldn’t. Secondly, I still hold that morale is like the tide – it ebbs and it flows in every organization.”
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The mayor said he would like a summary report update that examined department morale after the approval of new contracts.
“I would like to see the follow-up to this,” Weber said. “How do people feel now?”
Weber offered a slightly different take on the consultant report than Daniels and City Manager David Jinkens. The mayor noted the report on department morale could contain information relevant to public interest – if it also included data on how well the department was performing its duties.
“I can assure you that no matter what the level of morale is at the department, from the top to the bottom, when those people go to work, they’re professionals and they take care of business,” Weber said.
Former Mayor Tom Davis said he had read Taylor-Nelson’s summary report and the Tribune’s stories published Thursday, and sees reason for concern. Davis also revealed that South Lake Tahoe officers have stopped him to talk about conditions in the department.
“It’s bigger than a personnel issue,” Davis said. “It’s a morale issue, and it needs to be addressed.”
Davis said he supported Daniels’ promotion to chief and wouldn’t want to see him lose his job. But Daniels might benefit from additional management training, Davis said.
“I don’t want the chief to get fired. I want to fix the problem,” Davis said.
Councilman Bill Crawford declined to comment in detail on the consultant summary, because the El Dorado County civil grand jury has subpoenaed a copy of the full report from which the summary is based.
“My feeling is we need to wait for the grand jury report,” Crawford said. “It would be wrong for me to make a judgment all based on the summary. If we have serious problems, and I don’t know that we do right now, then we better deal with them,” Crawford said. “I’m not going to advocate any kind of action until the grand jury delivers.”
Councilman Ted Long said he has not seen the summary and has been out of town the past couple of days.
“I’d like to see the report, and I’m anxious to talk to some of the people on the street,” Long said.
Councilwoman Kathay Lovell declined to discuss the matter at length Thursday, and Councilman Jerry Birdwell was not immediately available for comment.
– City Editor Elaine Goodman contributed to this report.