River Cities

September 3, 2014

Letter: Kahn is most qualified to be Miami Springs police chief

Miami Springs Police Chief Pete Baan will retire at the end of this year, and the next chief should be 36-year veteran Capt. Jon Kahn.

Miami Springs Police Chief Pete Baan will retire at the end of this year, and the next chief should be 36-year veteran Capt. Jon Kahn.

Baan recommended Kahn as his replacement, and he said he would be willing to serve, although he’s set to retire a year after Baan. However, City Manager Ron Gorland sent a July 23 memo to the City Council, mentioning “John Kahn’s subsequent letter opting out of consideration.” That’s a lie.

One new requirement that rankles many officers is “Bilingual English/Spanish preferred.” That takes out Kahn and all the current command staff, lieutenants and higher. There’s no such requirement for hiring a city manager.

About half of current officers have Hispanic surnames and other non-Hispanic officers speak fluent Spanish, as well as several civilian employees. There’s no lack of Spanish speakers in the department.

The police department is not autonomous. Lt. Steve Carlisle retired last December and his position was eliminated by Gorland, despite objections from Baan. Eliminating the position meant that no sergeants would move up in rank and no patrol officer would be promoted to sergeant.

Gorland told Kahn in person that he isn’t being considered for chief, so it’s obvious that the new chief will come from outside. Amazingly, Chief Baan, a lifelong Springs resident, wasn’t included in the hiring process.

A new chief will likely bring in his own people, pushing current officers further down the line and sending a message to the rank-and-file that no matter how long or how well you do your job, it doesn’t mean you will be promoted.

One of city management’s objections to Kahn is his upcoming retirement, which has nothing to do with his ability to do the job for a year. Kahn also doesn’t have all the required college requirements; however, they can be waived. Kahn can be made acting chief or interim chief for his last year.

No council member has objected to Kahn being passed over. The council should ask why Kahn is not being considered and why Gorland told the council that Kahn opted out.

Kahn deserves the position more than anyone.

Wallace Clark, Miami Springs

Why the rush to hire new chief?

Can you explain to me why there is such a rush in the hiring of a new police chief in Miami Springs? The current captain has the ability to step into the position, which will allow for the extensive search for a new chief, to guarantee the hiring of the most qualified person for the job.

Let's not forget that allowing the placement of an interim chief from within the department will save the city a whopping $130,000 plus for the year. Since the city is in such dire straits, and there is no police contract, maybe the placing of the captain as the interim chief will alleviate the current morale situation.

Also, the Captain is extremely qualified for the job. I don't understand the rush in hiring a new chief. The safety of the community is of the utmost importance and it seems to me that allowing this process to be rushed might affect the community. I don't mean to question who made the decision not to give the interim position to the current captain, but I speak from my 31 years of law-enforcement background, and I know that rushing to hire is a very big mistake. What does the city have to lose by allowing the extensive search and the appointment of an interim chief from within?

Roslyn Buckner, Miami Springs

How to sound off

To submit your letter, e-mail sandron@MiamiHerald.com. Letters must address a specific LOCAL issue, and must be signed with a name, city or neighborhood, as well as a telephone number for verification purposes. Letters more than 350 words will not be accepted, and writers are limited to one letter every four weeks. Letters will run as space allows, and may be edited for length, style and clarity. The deadline for letters is noon Wednesday.

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