(Feb. 14, 2007) -- As first reported on LBReport.com's front page (www.lbreport.com) within minutes of a February 13 midmorning release, City Manager Gerald Miller withdrew from that night's City Council agenda the item regarding a possible employment agreement with Police Chief Anthony Batts.
"As this is not a time sensitive item, I have withdrawn Item R-24 to allow additional time to develop and clarify the employment agreement proposal," City Manager Miller said in a release. "Iím anticipating that I will place this item on the City Council agenda for full Council discussion within a few weeks."
A few days earlier, City Manager attached a proposed contract -- presumably already negotiated with Chief Batts -- and in a publicly agendized City Council item. It runs for an indefinite period and leaves salary unstated (indicating only that compensation "shall be set by the City Manager."
City Manager Miller recommended that the Council authorize entering into an employment contract with Police Chief Batts...which Miller acknowledged (in the agendizing memo) was "somewhat rare" but said is done by cities from time to time for key personnel such as Police Chiefs "particularly when there are transitions contemplated in senior City management."
As previously reported by LBReport.com, City Manager Miller plans to retire later this year...and in LB the Chief of Police is selected by the City Manager.
The current FY 07 budget (recommended by City Manager Miller in August 06 and adopted by the Council in Sept. 06) lists the Police Chief's salary as $199,716 (an increase from $161,565 in FY 06).
Under the previously agendized contract, Chief Batts would be terminable at will in the City Manager's sole discretion but entitled to lump sump severance pay in an amount equal to six months salary (plus accumulated sick leave) unless he's terminated for specified causes (willful breach of duty, habitual neglect of duty, moral turpitude, legal disqualification) or he resigns.
In a memo accompanying the item agendized for the Feb. 13 City Council meeting, City Manager Miller wrote in pertinent part:
Chief of Police Anthony W. Batts recently requested that the City consider entering into an
employment agreement with him so as to provide assurance to Mr. Batts of the City's long-term commitment to retain him as Chief of Police.
Although employment agreements for City management staff are somewhat rare in our City -- I believe the City Manager, Executive Director of the Harbor Department and General Manager of the Water Department are currently the only City employees who have been provided with such agreements -- I have learned that cities do, from time to time, extend such arrangements to key personnel such as Chiefs of Police, particularly when there are transitions contemplated in senior City management.
As you know, Chief Batts has served this community exceptionally well throughout his career and certainly since the Fall of 2002 when I first appointed him to his current position . During each successive year, Chief Batts has led the Long Beach Police Department with distinction and he has meaningfully contributed to annual reductions in violent crime, the single highest priority of this and previous City Councils...
I strongly believe retaining Chief Batts over the long-term is of substantial benefit to the City of Long
Beach, Long Beach Police Department and community overall and, moreover, that he has earned this unique consideration from the City of Long Beach .
Since being named Chief of Police in October 2002, Chief Batts has repeatedly advocated increasing LBPD's officer levels (a policy decision ultimately in the hands of the City Council). While given a thin blue line of fewer than 2.0 officers per thousand residents, LBPD under Chief Batts has delivered reductions in citywide reported crimes in several categories, including homicides.