Live Oak —
The Live Oak Charter Review Committee met Monday night, Dec. 23, for a special called meeting to continue their review and establish a recommendation to the Live Oak City Council on changes that need to be made, if any, to the city charter. Here is a brief look at the key item on the agenda.
Police chief position revisited
The committee had previously voted 3-1 to place the police chief position on a ballot and allow the voters to decide if the position should be elected or appointed. Committee member Jeanne d’Eauede was not present for the Dec. 17 meeting. The committee then met again Monday night before making a recommendation to the city council in January.
The board said their main concern is having an accredited police department. d’Eauede said since their concern is accreditation, the position should be appointed, not elected.
“We discussed (at a previous meeting) the importance of having an accredited police department,” d’Eauede said. “It’s very difficult to have an accredited police department when you do not have an accredited person running your department.”
d’Eauede also said history does not favor the city when having an elected police chief.
“We (heard) history from (city attorney Erny) Sellers about having to dissolve the police department before when we went down this path of (an) elected (police chief). It doesn’t guarantee you a person with qualifications. It guarantees you with a person who can get the most votes. That may sound wonderful, except we’re running a police department, not a popularity contest.”
Committee member Stephan Blue asked d’Eauede if the qualifications could be placed in the charter for the person running for the office, like it’s done in Starke, which also has an elected police chief.
“You can’t dictate in an election who’s elected,” she said.
d’Eauede pointed to the US president as an example.
“The qualifications are age, citizenship, and that’s it,” she said.
d’Eauede expressed her concerns that by moving forward with an elected police chief, the group would be moving backwards, rather than moving forward.
The discussion then got heated when d’Eauede said she felt there was a personal agenda regarding the position.
“I feel like there’s an agenda here,” she said.
“It’s not an agenda,” Blue responded.
“To do something that our city attorney, that our past history, has all shown us to be false. So in spite of us all who want the same thing, we want to have good police and we want to have an accredited force,” d’Eauede said. “The ballot box is good and it sounds good, but it doesn’t always work.”
Blue then shared some of the requirements stated in Starke’s charter for an elected police chief.
“No person shall serve as chief of police of the city of Starke unless such person has satisfied the minimum qualifications requirement for a police officer ... ” Blue quoted.
Blue said he recommends the city council do whatever it sees fit to see that the local police department becomes accredited.
Blue also made a motion to put the chief of police position on the ballot and let the voters decide if it should be elected or appointed. The motion passed 3-2. This will be recommended to the Live Oak City Council.