I went back into my files for this image of South Pasadena police chief Dan Watson driving a vintage squad car in the last 4th of July parade. It's a great example of our chief's personal involvement in our city. (I've even heard a rumor that he manned the beer tap at one of the arts festivals -- too bad I don't have a picture of that!) This gentleman doesn't just work for South Pasadena, he genuinely cares about South Pasadena. I had barely started the blog when I received a warm, welcoming email from Chief Watson. I was impressed. Here was a police chief who kept up with his city and reached out to the community in ways that went far beyond his official duties of law enforcement. When I mentioned the message to neighbors, nobody seemed surprised. In fact, everyone seemed to have a great personal story about Dan Watson. Gosh, I thought. Maybe I really did move to Mayberry.
For 8 years Chief Watson has led our police department with great success. We have a low crime rate for the Los Angeles area, and response time for any call to service is 3 minutes or less. There is a remarkably close-knit relationship between the community and the police department -- in fact, my husband and daughter joined Chief Watson for a meal at the annual 4th of July pancake breakfast.
You'll all understand why I was absolutely baffled when I learned that on November 5, the chief was informed by South Pasadena City Manager John Davidson that his employment contract would not be renewed. The South Pasadena Review reported last week that Davidson was the apparent messenger for the City Council who is looking for "a leadership change." The city will look for "a more qualified" candidate starting after the first of the year. (More qualified than a 3 decade LAPD veteran who has served South Pasadena well for 8 years?) According to news reports, the chief was reassured that there are "no concerns about his performance or the performance of any members of the department," and that he could certainly compete for his own job.
Are you mad yet? I know I am.
Is this how we thank one of South Pasadena's finest for years of dedication? Is this what passes for acceptable local hiring practice -- recruiting excellent people to serve our city and then, instead of rewarding their dedication and management skill, simply dumping them on a political whim? I don't pretend to know the ins and outs of local government but I know when I smell a rat. And something is stinking up the place.
At last week's City Council meeting, members of our community raised their voices in support of our chief. City Clerk Sally Kilby said, "You already have one quality police chief who goes above and beyond the call of duty." Chamber of Commerce president Scott Feldmann agreed, adding, "I'm a fan of the police chief, I think he's very community-oriented. I think he's fantastic, and so I hope the city can somehow reverse this decision." Local resident Carrie Adrian said, "Dan Watson is the best thing we have and we need to keep him." Here here.
The next City Council meeting is on January 6 at 7:30PM. I urge my South Pasadena readers to attend.
I also suggest calling City Hall to express your support of Dan Watson: (626)403-7232
You can also email the City Clerk: firstname.lastname@example.org
Looking at the above photo again got me thinking ... we should be throwing a parade for Dan Watson to thank him for his excellent record, not inexplicably asking him to leave his job. It's not right. And it's certainly not right for South Pasadena.
Note: GOSP reader and commenter Mister Earl also blogged about this last week. You can read his post here.