Chief Black acknowledged that in part this was due to financial considerations, but also the opportunity for professional advancement. The city is in the process of considering whether to increase the Chief’s compensation in order to insure a continuation of his services.
“While there have been periodic discussions resembling contract negotiations during the nearly two years since the contract ended, no real progress had been made,” he said in a statement to the Vanguard. “Additionally, with the economy causing great concern with so many folks regarding the City of Davis budget–long-term and structurally–and the notable attention regarding employee compensation, I became concerned that a mutually satisfactory agreement might not be reached.”
He also expressed great love and appreciation for the city of Davis, the community, and his department.
“I truly love it here in Davis,” he wrote. “I like the community–quirky as it sometimes appears to be–and find its challenges to be fulfilling and rewarding to tackle. This community has welcomed and encouraged me and has helped make me and the Davis Police Department successful and constantly improving in so many ways.”
He continued, “I could not find a greater group of people to work with than my fellow Police Department members. It really feels like family so often. They have helped and encouraged me and seem truly open and appreciative of what I have tried to bring to the professional policing equation in Davis.”
His fellow officers have been informed of this process and have provided him with support and encouragement to remain in Davis. “I am truly humbled by the respect and affection that has been communicated to me during this troubling time,” he said.
The move puts the city in a tough spot as it attempts to ask rank and file city employees to take concessions and temporary pay cuts. At the same time, Chief Landy Black has brought great stability to a department that upon his arrival was racked by controversy and difficulties with several different aspects of the communities.
When Chief Jim Hyde bolted for Antioch, the trust between the department and segments of the community was frayed at best. There were frequent complaints lodged not only regarding racial profiling, but a whole host of other management problems.
The Vanguard has learned for instance that the last three years under Chief Hyde, the city’s risk management insurance pool, YCPARMIA, paid out over $1.4 million in claims from anything ranging from use of force complaints to $400,000 for a collision involving a police car. In the three years under Chief Black that number is $90,000. The Vanguard is in the process of trying to obtain those records, but in a general sense, recognizes that a good chief not only makes good public relations sense but also good fiscal sense.
While complaints of racial profiling have persisted, the entire Davis Police Department appears to be run better from top to bottom. Meanwhile, in Antioch, Chief Hyde is now involved in a federal lawsuit involving discrimination against Section 8 housing residents while last year he fired shots back at the city of Davis, likening its officers to the cable parody, Reno 9-11.
Chief Black has worked hard to repair fractures between the department and portions of the community, and it would be a great tragedy for the city if he were to leave.
Nevertheless, the timing of this could not be worse for the city that is still in negotiations with the Davis Police Officer’s Association and the Department heads trying to trim an immediate budget deficit and deal with long range fiscal matters such as retirement pensions and health care.
He said at this point, he hopes to reach an agreement to remain in Davis. “During the past week or so, the indications are good. I am encouraged and hopeful,” he told the Vanguard.”
“However, I had already undergone a great deal of the candidate process in Fairfield and was selected as one of the final three candidates under consideration before my Davis negotiations began to show signs of life,” he continued. “So, [Wednesday] (5/5/10) I underwent the final competitive hurdles and expect to hear from the Fairfield City Manager in the next couple of days. I have had no discussions with him about what sort of working agreement we will strike since I do not know yet if I am his choice.”
While he is appreciative of the community, the department, and the city, he also believes that he needs to at least explore his professional options. “I am closer to the end of my career than the beginning,” he wrote. “I have an obligation to myself and my family to seek professional and personal growth and advancement, including increased current and future financial security/development.”
He continued, “In short, I have to make sure that I keep my eyes and options open and see what other possibilities exist. With the admittedly somewhat pessimistic view that I may have gone as far as I was going to go in Davis, and even finding the risk of going backwards a real fear, I accepted to the offer to entertain a move to the Fairfield Police Department, which would present me with new challenges and opportunities to improve my future.”
Chief Black in closing made it clear that this was not entirely about financial considerations. “If I end up having a decision to make between Davis and Fairfield, it will not be entirely based on financial considerations, but that will play a role,” said the Chief. “I again have to stress that I really love Davis and feel love in return. There is real value in that.”
Our best information at this time indicates that the city at this point is willing to reach some sort of agreement that will keep him here. It is clear that everyone involved thinks that the Chief is a value to the community. There is a concern that they do not want to risk things going back to where they were under Chief Hyde. Despite any public statements to the contrary, the city is well aware of the turmoil that Hyde sowed and the divisions he created.
It is disappointing that during these times it has come to this. It puts the city in a tough position during a very tough time. However, from a fiscal standpoint, a good chief with a stable police department is a net fiscal benefit to the city.
—David M. Greenwald reporting