Tuesday, June 18th, 2019

Chief Jack should run for mayor

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At Monday night’s Ordinance and License Committee meeting, city of Waukesha Police Chief Russell Jack offered all sorts of opinions on providing street closing permits to Friday Night Live. Unfortunately, none of the opinions had anything to do with his job as police chief.

Jack told the committee that if they created a fee structure in line with what other cities charge for closing the streets that Friday Night Live could no longer continue. One, that’s certainly a debatable question, and certainly worth discussion between members of the Downtown Business Association and the members of the city of Waukesha Common Council. Two, true or false, that’s not his responsibility.

The police chief should only be offering his opinion on matters of public safety and the cost of providing security for public events. Issues of public policy are meant to be decided by the Common Council.

By offering his opinion on the merits of public policy outside of his purview, Jack actually raises serious questions about the opinions he is offering for those issues within his charge. Remember, the streets are closed for Friday Night Live supposedly because of the police chief’s concerns about safety. Other cities manage to somehow avoid closing their streets despite much larger crowds, but Jack has decided that it’s in the interest of public safety to create a mini-Summerfest on Main Street, a vital traffic artery in the city.

Can we trust the police chief to offer an objective opinion on whether the street needs to be closed if he is already publicly pre-disposed to taking the side of the event organizers on issues that do not have to do with public safety? And if the Common Council cannot trust the police chief to be objective in offering his professional opinion on this issue, shouldn’t the council see what the best practices are in other cities?

Our police department does a great job in keeping the city safe, something that I have written about in my Waukesha Freeman column. But if the police chief really wants to offer his opinions on issues that have nothing to do with public safety, he should just resign and run for public office.

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