In one of those head-scratching moves that’s hard to figure, Dallas assistant city manager Jill Jordan decided that maybe lying isn’t that serious if you’re a Dallas police officer. At least, that’s the message I take from the DMN’s story this morning, outlining Jordan’s decision to override Chief David Kunkle’s five-day suspension of Sgt. Walter Clifton after Clifton directed other officers — in writing (check out the DMN website to see Clifton’s memo) — to make up occupations for homeless people cited for violations (i.e., a prostitute became a "human relations clerk" and a burgler became an "appropriations loan assistant"; apparently, Clifton believed that municipal courts wouldn’t issue arrest warrants for homeless people, but they would be happy to go after human relations clerks. Kunkle suspended Clifton in late March, according to the story, but Jordan overrode his decision (as she was allowed to do at the time) and essentially decided that Clifton’s post-incident counseling was enough punishment.
Jordan won’t be making this type of decision in the future, because the rules of disciplinary appeals have changed downtown; now the city manager (as opposed to an assistant) will hear appeals; that’s a step in the right direction, because there’s just no logical reason to have a mid-level bureaucrat overruling the police chief on a personnel matter. Of course, it really doesn’t make any sense to have the city manager overruling him, either, when you think about it: The city manager already has the ability to fire the police chief, so why is it necessary to retain the ability to micromanage him/her, too? Why not give the chief enough rope to do his job the way he sees fit, and yank the rope if you don’t like what you’re seeing.