We believe Blue Earth Mayor Rob Hammond is doing exactly the right thing to get the ball rolling on the city hiring a police chief. Hammond this week invoked his executive authority to appoint a chief; a decision that still will have to be ratified by the City Council.
The council has been meandering for almost a year on what direction it wants to take with its police department. While it has searched for a new chief from outside the department to no avail, it also has flirted with the Faribault County Sheriff's Office and the Winnebago Police Department about possibly sharing services. All the while, police officers in Blue Earth have been stressed, filling in for the police chief and wondering about their futures.
Hammond says current officers will be asked to apply for the job of chief. Those who apply will be interviewed by the sheriff and the city administrator as Hammond listens in. He will then recommend a hire to the council. If no current officers apply for the job, the process will be opened - again - to outside applicants.
Some citizens and council members may not like the mayor exercising his authority, but it seems clear he has the backing of City Code. In fact, a former mayor appointed the previous police chief, Dean Vereide.
We think Hammond saw a process that was utterly broken and decided to step in and fix it. It was a needed action. We hope the council takes Hammond's recommendation seriously and accepts the premise that the situation needs to be resolved.