Original URL: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/1025maximus25.html

Chandler police changes vowed: Reaction to consultant's report
The Arizona Republic
Oct. 25, 2003

by Edythe Jensen

CHANDLER - He'll be replaced before the end of the year, but acting Police Chief Dave Neuman vowed Friday to work on changes in the department recommended by an outside review.

The 48 recommendations by consultant Maximus Inc. include improving community relations, rearranging staff and increasing training. Some, like construction of substations, upgrading computerized record keeping and adding employees, could cost up to $18 million, the City Council learned during a post-midnight briefing at the end of Thursday's council meeting.

At a community meeting on the 227-page review Friday, Neuman told an audience of eight that he made some changes before the study was finished. "I could have just sat there and let things go, but we're trying to make things better, to move forward," he said. When one resident asked how they'll know if the changes are made, Neuman said he will post details on the city's Web site, www.chandler az.gov.

At the meeting, Joe Diaz, 59, suggested the department offer pay incentives for bilingual officers in light of the study's recommendation that police reach out to Latinos.

Joel Munter, 44, a member of the city's Human Relations Commission, said he was disappointed more residents didn't attend Friday's session.

While Maximus spokesman Craig Fraser summarized his findings and took questions from residents at the downtown Community Center, screening committees were interviewing six finalists for the chief's job behind closed doors in adjoining city offices. Neuman didn't apply but told the audience during the community meeting that he may seek the job in the future. After 20 years, officers are assured retirement benefits equivalent to at least half their salary; Neuman has 17 years on the force.

The $181,148 Maximus review was commissioned by the City Council in March, a month after former Chief Bobby Joe Harris retired under pressure following two officers' on-duty deaths, the shooting of a civilian by an officer, and the firing and subsequent reinstatement of an officer who complained about safety problems.

Although Harris' name wasn't mentioned during Maximus' public presentations, the study said department employees were critical of a "good old boy" system in promotions and discipline. Maximus recommended changes in performance reviews, promotions and some pay scales.

However, Fraser said that the department is a "fundamentally solid" agency and that 48 is a low number of recommendations in a field where 100 or more is average. City Council members praised the results and said they will help the next chief better run a department in the fast-growing city.

"Some things aren't easy fixes," Councilwoman Patti Bruno said. "But I hope we don't just put the (study) book aside to gather dust."

Reach the reporter at (602) 444-7939.