Police union supports strong mayor campaign
The union that represents Sacramento police officers is supporting Mayor Kevin Johnson’s “strong mayor” initiative, saying it would give the mayor the power to guarantee sufficient public safety funding.
Meanwhile, Bill Camp, the plaintiff who challenged the initiative in a Dec. 1 lawsuit, said a strong mayor form of government could lead to job insecurity for police department employees who are not represented by unions. Camp is the executive secretary of the Sacramento Central Labor Council. He filed the lawsuit as a private citizen.
Sacramento residents will vote on the initiative on June 10. The initiative would give the mayor many new powers and would change the city’s existing council/manager form of government.
The Sacramento Police Officers Association said in a Jan. 10 press release that more than 1,100 police officers, dispatchers and department staff are union members.
“A mayor in Sacramento under this structure of government will have the authority to ensure appropriate levels of funding for public safety, which translates into safer streets for our police officers and citizens,” SPOA President Brent Meyer said in the news release.
Meyer could not be reached by phone Monday afternoon.
A strong mayor in Sacramento would have the ability to hire and fire as many as 800 city employees that are not represented by unions, according to the city’s Charter Review Committee, which studied the strong mayor system of government.
Camp noted that the mayor’s hiring and firing powers would extend to unrepresented members of the police department. He argued that a future mayor — not Johnson — could abuse his or her firing authority.
The strong mayor initiative “does not build clean politics,” Camp said.
By contrast, Meyer said in the press release that the strong mayor system would “hold all elected officials more accountable to their constituency.”
Kathleen Haley is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press.