In a presentation to the City Council Monday evening on the reorganization of the Police Division, Public Safety Director Martin Hellwig made as his last major point the elimination of the job of police chief, saying the move is part of fulfilling the campaign promises of Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs.
Plainfield has had a police chief since the city's organization. Current Police Chief Edward Santiago is New Jersey's first Hispanic chief of police.
Hellwig and Santiago have tangled in court over the reorganization issue, and their court case is not over yet. Santiago also has a suit against the Mayor, over moves to suspend him, which is also wending its way through the court system.
It was not clear what action Hellwig expected the Council to take, if any. When Council questions veered into day-to-day operations, Councilor Gibson warned his fellow Councilors that was not their bailiwick.
No substantive discussion was held on the REAL issue the wish to eliminate the Chief's job brings up: Will it necessitate a charter change to effect abolishing the job?
If so, a complicated charter review process might be invoked -- involving the election of a charter study commission that could be filled with persons who could resist the dictates of the Democratic machine.
These may yet become interesting times.
-- Dan Damon
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