BE Council votes 7-0 for Fletcher as new chief
The Blue Earth City Council voted unanimously, 7-0, to approve Mayor Rob Hammond Jr.’s appointment of Tom Fletcher as the city’s new police chief.
Hammond told the council he had interviewed all three current officers and he felt Fletcher would be the best choice.
There were two issues that had to be dealt with before the vote was taken.
First, Fletcher is a 13-year veteran of the police force and would actually have had to take a cut in pay to become the chief.
Plus, he has accumulated a significant amount of sick pay and did not want to give that up and “start over.”
Mayor Hammond’s recommendation was that Fletcher would be kept at the same rate of pay – Step 3 – and be able to keep all accumulated sick pay.
The council agreed and approved the appointment with the changes in compensation noted.
The new police chief answered several questions of the council before the roll call vote was taken.
Councilman John Gartzke asked if the department would allow ‘ride-alongs’ in the squad cars and Fletcher answered yes.
Gartzke also asked about hiring a patrolling officer to replace Fletcher.
City Administrator Kathy Bailey says replacing Fletcher with a new officer is already in the works.
Gartzke, however, stressed that he felt the city should hire an officer to fill the position vacated by Fletcher moving up to chief, and another position that has long been vacant as well.
“We’ve done nothing but cut, cut, cut this department,” Gartzke says. “We need to hire an officer to replace Tom, then also hire another one – and then even another one.”
Mayor Hammond suggested later in the meeting that the matter of how many officers to hire be moved to the agenda of the next work session.
How many police officers to have on staff was not the only question raised at last Monday night’s City Council meeting.
The council also once again debated whether to have sidewalks installed as part of street reconstruction projects.
The sidewalks in question would be for next summer’s project on Gorman Street.
Councilmen Gartzke and Glenn Gaylord said they had heard from residents who did not want sidewalks where there had not been any in the past.
Councilman John Huisman said the city needs to develop an overall sidewalk plan as to where sidewalks should be installed. Others agreed that a plan needs to be developed.