Patrick Collins created a bit of a kerfuffle when he recently announced he would not be re-appointing the current Cheyenne Chief of Police and Fire Chief. Those two positions work at the pleasure of the mayor, so Collins is perfectly within his right to make those changes.
Police Chief Brian Kozak has made the choice to not go quietly. He has been very vocal and public about his displeasure and desire to stay on. He has even gone so far as to offer to stay on for 16 months to help search for a new chief and assist the transition to his or her new administration. Kozak has also expressed his desire to run for Laramie County Sheriff when the next election rolls around.
Some Cheyenne residents were taken aback by the announcement and have come forward to support Kozak and ask the mayor elect to rescind his decision, citing an internal CPD survey that resulted in 97% of respondents endorsing his reinstatement. Over the last 10 years Kozak has done a great job communicating internally with his department and externally with the public. Most of us who have worked with the chief in one way or another on public events and activities have been pleased with the outcome. He is a popular figure in Cheyenne.
But according to the incoming mayor, local crime statistics tell a different story. Collins cites a number of crime categories in which Cheyenne ranks behind, and in some cases far behind U.S averages and the statistics of other similar communities. To him this is unacceptable for Cheyenne. During this year of the COVID virus many people are partial to the phrase ‘follow the science.’ It appears Collins is ‘following the math.’ He is sticking by his decision.
Important aspects of leadership include good communication and public relations skills. But leadership also comprises producing top end results, and Collins believes the current chief has not been successful in generating the positive results in preventing and solving crimes that he wants to see for Cheyenne. Thus, his plan to go in a new direction at CPD.
Sometimes leadership means making unpopular decisions for the right reasons. The incoming mayor is basing this decision on what he feels are the right reasons, even in the face of substantial criticism. Only time will tell if he is right.
Cheyenne residents will now expect improved crime statistics from a new CPD chief and new direction for the Cheyenne Police Department. As mayor, Collins has set himself a high bar of accountability. Cheyenne people will have a limited amount of patience for his new chief to provide upgraded results. Improved performance, confirmed by better statistical results will hold the chief’s and the mayor’s feet to the fire.
There are too many politicos at all levels of government who shy away from accountability. Many end up pointing fingers at others when things go awry.
We will soon see the management and leadership style Patrick Collins will take as mayor. But right now, it is refreshing to find someone in elected authority who seems to welcome the accountability that comes with making somewhat unpopular, but warranted decisions based on solid information. That’s a good start Mr. Mayor.