SAN ANGELO, Texas — San Angelo has recently begun the discussion regarding whether the position of Police Chief should remain an elected position.
The City Council appointed seven members to the Charter Review Committee to review the charter and recommend amendments. Currently, the committee has suggested three options:
- No changes, leave it as an elected position.
- Remain an elected position, add minimum qualifications. Currently, the only requirements are to be 18 years of age and have lived in San Angelo for two years.
- Change from elected to appointed (by the city manager) but define a process for the city manager to follow in making his selection for the appointment.
According to former City Councilwoman Billie DeWitt in an interview with KLST, the city of San Angelo is the only city in Texas currently with an elected police chief.
There are significant benefits and differences between both systems. One of the more notable differences is that an appointed police chief who is deemed unfit for the position can be fired at any time, but this is not the case for an elected police chief. Voters hold an elected police chief accountable because there is no provision for disciplinary action. An elected chief in bad standing with the community would then need to be recalled through a petition with 30 percent of the voters signing in agreement according to Judge Allen Gilbert, who spoke during the November 14, 2022, Town Hall meeting. After all the signatures have been collected, an election would take place to determine if the individual should be removed or not.
Another key difference is that an elected police chief typically has more control over the police station than an appointed chief, which can be both good and bad, depending on the person placed in the position. The appointed police chief would have to answer to the City Manager and board members regarding decisions about the station.
One of the biggest differences between an elected and appointed position can be qualifications. Elected police chiefs are only required to have lived in the city for a minimum of two years, be 18 years of age, and gather enough signatures to qualify to run for office, allowing voters to choose the most qualified candidate. Judge Gilbert confirmed with SAPD during the town hall meeting that, at the minimum requirements, rookie cops are held to higher standards than an elected Chief of Police.
Appointed chiefs can be subject to qualifications required by a Board of Aldermen – (an elected member of a municipal council) which includes requiring the individual to have served as a police officer for a minimum of five years. Currently, 63 members of SAPD are qualified under the Civil Service requirements, according to Judge Gilbert.
A representative of the city told CVHP there are currently no future town hall meetings over this subject but there may be future council meetings where the topic is discussed.
Citizens can send in feedback to the City of San Angelo Facebook page or to cosatx.us/Charter.