The Scott Stephens case has finally hit the front page (March 6). City management is back to its old tricks: “Which cup is the pea under?” The key issue is how the demotion of Stephens was handled. For years, the police department was top-heavy with four chiefs. Captains were civil-service operational commanders.
During a 2004 budget crisis, the former chief, Roger Bragdon, did away with the captain rank and had deputy chiefs doing captain work. Enter successor Anne Kirkpatrick, who camouflaged the deputy chiefs under the title of major. Retired captains pursued an issue with the city and prevailed with the reinstatement of the captain position.
Now comes the Stephens matter, with the city claiming the rank of major no longer exists. The point is that, functionally, major and commander are the same position. Notwithstanding the manipulation, Stephens should be entitled to the major (commander) rank, or at a minimum, that of captain. The chief is allowed one exempt position. The rest are civil-service positions, and rules are rules.
Stephens should have been allowed a hearing and an appeal, and should not have been subjected to heavy-handed intimidation by top management.