After reviewing a number of potential candidates – and interviewing several – for the post of Escalon City Manager, city council members did an about face and decided what they really want is a new police chief.
So for now, there will be no search for a new City Manager, the council opting instead to put together the package to go out and seek a permanent leader for the police department.
The city has been without a permanent Chief of Police for more than three years, working first with longtime interim Chief Jim Shaw and, more recently, with acting chief Milt Medeiros, who has held the post for more than a year.
“At this point in time I will not be seeking this appointment,” Medeiros said on Tuesday. “I am pleased that city staff and the council are directing their efforts to bring up the staffing levels in the police department.”
Escalon’s interim manager, Finance Director Tammy Alcantor, has been handling the day to day city operations, with some assistance from former interim City Manager Henry Hesling, who agreed to come back in a very limited advisory role. Other staff members have also stepped up, said Alcantor, who took over in July when John Abrew left the post.
“It’s not just me, the staff at City Hall and Public Works, those employees are doing their jobs well, we don’t have to worry about it,” Alcantor said.
The police department is also running well under the interim leadership of Medeiros, but remains understaffed and officials hope by bringing a new chief on board, they can then recruit additional officers.
Hesling said the council was basically in agreement with the direction they wanted to go, even though there were some very good candidates for the City Manager post.
“We went through the recruitment, we had interviews, we had some very good candidates but when the council looked at the circumstances, they basically said ‘let’s see if we can leave it the way it is’,” Hesling explained of maintaining status quo at City Hall. “They are looking to the police department, they want to find a department head there and they felt with Tammy here, they didn’t need to make a change at this point.”
Eventually, the city will move in the direction of finding a new City Manager but right now the focus will be on bringing the police department back to its full complement of officers, including a full time permanent chief.
“In the next 30 to 45 days we will be putting the packet together,” Alcantor said of starting the search for a chief.
For her part, Alcantor said serving as the interim city manager has its “ups and downs” but she is grateful for the support of those around her, including the council.
“I’m very flattered by that,” she said of the council’s belief in her abilities. “It is due to our staff that I can do this.”
Starting with the city nearly 10 years ago, Alcantor was an account clerk initially, then assistant finance director, taking on the finance director role in 2008.
“She has been in the trenches and I think that’s part of the ability, she has been through the rough times,” Hesling said.
He will stay on as a consultant, assisting with some specific projects.
They both pointed to the ongoing efforts of all departments, working together, as being key to the city operating smoothly. Leaders include Juston Collins, maintenance supervisor in Public Works, along with Chief Water Operator Matt Morgan and Chief Wastewater Operator John Welch.
Medeiros, meanwhile, said he will remain with the police department, but won’t seek to make his ‘chief’ title a permanent one.
“During my tenure as Acting Chief I have found it to be a very rewarding endeavor. The support and hard work of the department’s officers and staff has been unwavering,” Medeiros noted. “The same level of support rang true with all city departments, the city administration, each of the elected officials and the citizenry.
“I am looking forward to working with the new Chief of Police once that individual is hired.”