Decorah Mayor Lorraine Borowski wants information regarding requests for proposals (RFPs) from firms that could help the city with a search for a new police chief.
Decorah Police Chief Bill Nixon is retiring in July. The mayor appoints the chief, with Council approval.
After Nixon announced in December his intent to retire, informal discussions began about the possibility of consolidating the Police Department with the Winneshiek County Sheriff’s Office in an effort to save money. The proposal called for the city to contract with the Winneshiek County Sheriff’s Of fice for the city’s law enforcement services.
After researching possibilities for more than a month, Borowski told the Council in March she did not find sufficient support for a merger.
She said governmental differences between the Sheriff’s Office and the Police Department were “key” to her recommendation.
“Municipal law enforcement is an essential government component. The power of a city is vested through state and local codes reflecting mayor and City Council responsibilities and authority,” Borowski said during the Council’s March 4 meeting.
“The sheriff is an autonomous position having complete administrative control of the department. The Board of Supervisors is the fiscal agent. All positions (the sheriff sand the supervisors) are elected and therefore potentially can be influenced by political tides. Twenty-eight E (intergovernmental) agreements would be between the city and the Board of Supervisors (if departments were consolidated),” she said.
“Lack of documented successful examples, complexities of political implications, unknown variables and potential erosion of well-run individual departments does not support relinquishing the city law enforcement authority,” Borowski said.
“As mayor of Decorah, a proposed transfer from city to county directly conflicts with the oath of office I took as mayor.
“For many reasons, these are extremely unsettling times. Supporting law enforcement is crucial. The valued law enforcement services for all the citizens are best served by the Decorah Police Department and the Winneshiek County Sheriff’s Office. Exploring cost savings through building strong partnerships is a priority,” she said.
After a lengthy discussion at the March meeting, the Council approved asking for proposals from firms that could assist the city in a search for a new police chief.
At last week’s Council meeting, Borowski said she’d like information by the Council’s April 15 meeting on the RFPs from firms that could help with the police chief search, and at the least, she said she’d like the information by the Council’s May 6 meeting.
“We need to continue to gather information on which way to go on seeking a new police chief,” Borowski said.
City Manager Chad Bird told Decorah Newspapers Friday that he is working on writing the RFPs.
He said the city will be seeking a consultant to assist in the search for candidates and with the civil service compliance requirements.