The Manager-Police Chief Relationship

by: Rod Gould, ICMA-CM

Local government managers and assistants must ensure their relations with police chiefs are strong, respectful, and mutually supportive. It is a classic symbiotic relationship. All departments are important, but there is more at stake with the police department than any other.

Ensuring community safety by preventing and addressing crime and incivility is the first priority of all local governments. The strength of a local representative democracy and the quality of life enjoyed by its residents is often a function of the way police officers carry out their duties.

There are 680,000 sworn officers in the U.S.1 serving in 18,000 separate agencies.2 Not surprisingly, police departments take up a large share of most communities’ general fund budgets.

But what is most unique about police departments is the amount of discretion provided to line staff. We expect officers to be benevolent community problem solvers and compassionate role models, while at the same time being ready to attack and kill in the case of a mass shooting or terrorist incident.

An entry-level police officer is authorized to take a person’s liberty during an arrest, or even a life if the circumstances dictate it. That’s a lot of judgment for someone, perhaps in his or her early twenties, to exercise.

Generally, there’s no time to request supervisory oversight of such a decision.3 Consequently, the cost of mistakes can be very high in civil liability and in lasting harm to community relations.

To read the full article click here. 

Developing leaders should be ‘Job One’ for ICMA!

In 2014 Rod Gould authored a report for ICMA as Chair of the Task Force on Leadership.  It was unanimously approved by the Executive Board in November of 2014 and is being implemented today.

The ICMA Task Force on Leadership was created in 2013 to:

  •  elevate leadership to the essential core of who we are and what we do as professional local government managers
  •  align the human and financial resources of ICMA to accomplish this charge
  • recommend to the ICMA Executive Board at the September 2014 meeting in Charlotte,
    North Carolina, specific actions to implement the strategy.

To read this report, click here.

“The Politics of Abundance”: an Interview with Santa Monica’s Retiring City Manager, Part One

In January 2015, Rod Gould sat down for an interview with “Santa Monica Next” — a community organization and news website focused on the future of Santa Monica — to talk about the last five years, his plans for the future, and the challenges facing Santa Monica.

Excerpt: “I think the biggest issue facing my successor is the politics of abundance. There is an abundance of resources in this city. There is an abundance of financial as well as human assets in town. There is an abundance of opportunities, so choosing amongst them and making the best choices for the long-term health of the city is probably the biggest challenge.

Most cities would kill for the opportunities that Santa Monica fights over daily. Many of the opportunities in development or finance that have been quite controversial here would have approved overnight in most cities because they brought jobs, they brought opportunity, they brought revenue, they brought stability.

Santa Monica has the opportunity to be the choosiest of cities, to pick only the best of the best. I’m just hoping that it will.” – Rod Gould, Santa Monica City Manager

To read Part One of this interview with Rod Gould, click here. To read Part Two, click here.

Santa Monica City Manager Rod Gould: Retiring Observations

In September 2014, The Planning Report — a Los Angeles-area trade publication — interviewed Santa Monica city manager Rod Gould about Santa Monica’s fiscal health, its development challenges, and its opportunities as Metro light rail connects this city with the greater LA region.

Excerpt: “Five or six years since the recession lifted, the sun looks like it’s coming out in California and across America. But those cities still need to hold their purse strings tight, remain very prudent, and say no much more than they can say yes—in order to not imperil their fiscal stability into the future. That’s bitter medicine.

I’m hopeful that your readers recognize how important cities are to civilization in general, and to us in the great state of California. We have 482 cities, and over 80 percent of Californians live in cities. As go the cities, so goes California, America, and much of the world. The care, feeding, nurturing, and stewardship of cities is pretty darn important, and that’s why I’ve given my career to it.” – Rod Gould, City Manager of Santa Monica

To read the full Rod Gould interview, click here.

Promoting Good Governance Within Your Agency

Santa Monica city manager Rod Gould was featured in the December 2014 article “Promoting Good Governance Within Your Agency” for Western City, the monthly magazine of the League of CA Cities.

Excerpt: The City of Santa Monica beta-tested the Good Governance Checklist. City Manager Rod Gould sat down with department heads and advisory staff to compare their city’s practices with those outlined in the checklist. Gould was pleased to see that they were already engaging in many of the practices listed. Where they weren’t, the checklist served as a catalyst to stimulate discussion about areas where the city could make improvements. Gould says, “For any organization committed to improving its governance practices, this checklist is a great tool to get the process started.”

To read the full article featuring Rod Gould, click here.

Transparency In Local Government: Protecting Your Community Against Corruption

For the December 2010 edition of Western City, the League of California Cities’s monthly magazine, Rod Gould contributed insights to “Transparency In Local Government:Protecting Your Community Against Corruption.”

Excerpt: As events unfolded this past summer about multiple irregularities in the City of Bell, many local officials were understandably shocked and dismayed. Many also experienced the public’s understandable but disheartening question, “If these things happened in Bell, are they also happening in our community?”

Many conscientious and concerned local officials asked a similar question: “What can we do to make sure that what happened in Bell never happens to our community?”

To read the full article, click here.

The League Steps Up on Pension Reform

In 2011, Rod Gould authored “The League Steps Up on Pension Reform” for Western City, the monthly magazine of the League of California Cities.

Intro: “The League board of directors took action on the issue of public pension reform in late July by adopting the City Managers Department Pension Reform Action Plan as League policy. This signaled the League’s willingness to engage directly on an issue that has far-reaching financial, political and labor-relations implications for all cities in California. By adopting the plan’s recommendations, the League is taking a leadership role in advocating responsible public pension reform. This is critically important because public agencies can’t sustain the long-term costs of current pension practices, and action is urgently needed due to the growing momentum of a frontal attack on public employee retirement security, orchestrated by partisan politicians and fueled by media seeking conflict and controversy.”

To read Rod Gould’s full article, click here.

Cal-ICMA Honors Two Members with Ethics Award

Press Release courtesy of ICMA
February 21, 2014

Rod Gould, city manager of Santa Monica, and Doug Willmore, city manager of Bell, were recipients of the 2014 Cal-ICMA Ethics Awards

Rod GouldBoth Rod Gould, city manager of Santa Monica, and Doug Willmore, city manager of Bell, were recognized during the recent Cal-ICMA board meeting at the City Managers’ Department conference in Long Beach.

Rod Gould, who is currently serving as one of ICMA’s West Coast Regional Vice Presidents, was recognized for his work to establish a code of ethics for the staff and elected officials during his tenure with the city of Poway.

Doug Willmore was acknowledged for his work to put the city of Bell back on an ethical track after the crisis in that community. Early in 2013, the Cal-ICMA board approved the guidelines and criteria for this Cal-ICMA awards program.

How to Successfully Recruit a City Manager in the 21st Century

In 2004, Rod Gould and Glenn Southard co-authored “How to Successfully Recruit a City Manager in the 21st Century” for Western City, the monthly magazine of the League of California Cities. This article provided suggestions for elected officials and interim managers seeking to recruit city managers. It also discussed such issues as the shrinking talent pool for local government management, executive recruiters, the interview process, and building successful relationships with new city managers.

To read Rod Gould’s full article, click here.

How are WE Doing? A Public Engagement Evaluation Platform

Rod Gould has served on the board of the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership at Pepperdine University — a think tank focused on promoting civic engagement — for years. In February 2016, the Institute launched a tool to allow local governments to gauge how they are doing in civic engagement and to recognize the ones that are doing advanced work in this emerging area.

For more information on the platform, click here.