Free Lance Editorial: City shirks responsibility to protect public

City Hall

By failing to identify and appoint a permanent chief of police, the majority of the Hollister City Council and City Manager Clint Quilter have shirked their responsibility of protecting the public to the best of their ability with the available resources.

They want to have it both ways – no consolidation of law enforcement and maintaining a fatally flawed management structure in the Hollister Police Department. The chosen direction is so senseless that there has to be some unseen agenda at work. This would not be the first time the council and staff has hidden their true intentions from the public. As long as the public tolerates these deceptions, they will continue.

The council majority and city manager argue that consolidation with the San Benito County Sheriff’s Office is not possible because they do not want to deal with an elected sheriff, even though most of Sheriff Darren Thompson’s votes came from city residents. Yet, with more than a year’s notice, they have failed to fill the position of police chief, substituting the worst possible solution – rotating interim appointments – instead. The old management axiom applies: When everyone is in charge, no one is in charge. The police rank and file are bound to this see indecision as a weak management structure and the interim chiefs – Capt. Carlos Reynoso will take on the duties after interim Chief David Westrick is done in about a half year – are automatically in a pickle.

How can the Hollister Police Department develop comprehensive policies and procedures – even make structure decisions – when they might be overturned in only a few months? How does the command and discipline hierarchy operate? By committee? Is Westrick expected to discipline Reynoso, if necessary, all the time knowing their roles will shortly be reversed? If Westrick disciplines Reynoso, will Reynoso see it as fair or just an attempt to take him out of the running for the permanent appointment?

This unworkable organizational structure just encourages members of the force to choose sides. Then when one group is in, the other group will be out. And we will have to start all over.

The residents of Hollister have the right to expect a command structure where someone is in charge and that person can be held accountable for a critical community function such as law enforcement. Setting up a system where the interim chiefs have responsibility, but only limited authority that flip-flops with the calendar, is just asking for trouble we do not need. 


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