Winter Park Police Chief Brett Railey received a vote of no confidence from the Winter Park Police Officers Association Wednesday, Feb. 16. And now city officials are firing back.
The vote was the result of a five-day process, passing by 70 percent in favor of “no confidence”, according to the WPPOA. In a released statement, the WPPOA said Railey lacked leadership and communication skills.
But Winter Park City Manager Randy Knight said the result of that vote was already expected.
“The city is not surprised by the purported results of the Teamsters Local 385’s vote of no confidence,” Knight said in a written statement. “The Teamsters called for the vote. The Teamsters established the voting process. The Teamsters administered the vote. The Teamsters counted the votes behind closed doors. Teamsters reported the results.
“When you take into account the lack of credibility of the process and the objective facts of the accomplishments under Chief Brett Railey’s leadership, one can only conclude that this vote was nothing more than a negotiating tactic,” Knight added.
A city spokeswoman said Railey was unavailable to comment.
City officials had previously referred to the vote as a negotiating tactic when the union announced on Feb. 11 that it would pursue the no confidence vote. Knight said that such a vote was a typical negotiating tactic for unions hoping to gain leverage against the city during contract negotiations.
The city and the union are currently in a battle over pensions and the level that police officers would be expected to pay into their own pension funds. Those funds are estimated to cost the city $55 million over the next 10 years. Winter Park’s most recent police chief, Doug Ball, was paid $399,000 when he retired early in 2009 and will receive a pension of $100,000 per year from the city. Shortly after retiring from Winter Park, he was hired as Maitland’s chief of police, earning another $100,000 per year in Maitland.
Ball’s replacement, Railey, had been trying to reduce overhead costs from the police department. Knight and Railey had frozen some open positions at the department, including those opened up after officers were promoted when Ball and Deputy Chief Bill McEachnie retired.
None of the union’s battles with Railey were mentioned in a letter explaining the confidence vote, in which union president Marty Barber wrote that Railey “lacks the leadership traits, skills and abilities necessary to competently and honorably guide the Department; has failed to promote meaningful communications with the members of our Department; and, has consistently failed to show care and support for members of the Department.”
But Knight said that Railey’s performance stood up against a no confidence vote, saying he’d helped make the city a safer place.
Knight cited that overall crime fell 13.2 percent in 2009, and then 18.3 percent in 2010, under Railey’s helm, despite a 7 percent reduction in the operating budget. He also said that officer turnover dropped 43 percent since Railey took over, compared to the two years prior to his ascension to chief of the department.
Mayor Ken Bradley said he was happy with the job Railey has been doing.
“He has found ways to reassign some of our officers, putting more in areas where there are more accidents, and we’ve seen decreased accidents, decreased tickets, which I’m supportive of, and we’ve seen reduced overall crime,” Bradley said. “I attribute that directly to Chief Railey’s leadership.”