Reichert asked Davis to take on police chief duties

Telegraph staffMay 3, 2013 

Macon Mayor Robert Reichert asked Bibb County’s sheriff to lead the city’s police force for the next eight months.

Sheriff David Davis turned down the offer, however.

Reached late Friday afternoon, Davis said Reichert called him Monday and asked him to consider the possibility of serving as the department’s interim police chief. Davis told the mayor he’d have to think about it, consult with attorneys and advisers and see if such a move was even legal.

In their conversation, Davis said, Reichert pointed to consolidation of the police department and sheriff’s office coming in early 2014 anyway and said it made sense to him for Davis to go ahead and take temporary charge of the police department now.

Reichert sent a follow-up email, and Davis responded with one of his own later, turning down the request.

In doing so, Davis said he had several questions and concerns about how one person could do both jobs now. Among them: In the event of policy questions or issues, which department’s policies would govern the situation? Also, as sheriff, he said, he’s answerable to the people of Bibb County. As police chief, he’d be accountable to the mayor and Macon City Council.

“For me to take over all of that would be cumbersome and a little confusing,” Davis said.

Police Chief Mike Burns announced his retirement last week, effective May 31. The department said initially that Deputy Police Chief Mike Carswell would take over as interim police chief, but Reichert said this week that decision hasn’t been made.

Reichert’s overture to Davis also was mentioned in a weekly email update on consolidation from the sheriff’s office.

It read in part:

“Consolidating two large law enforcement agencies into one is not a task that can be achieved by just making the Sheriff the Chief and, while on the surface it may seem like an easy solution, it just isn’t possible. ... The employees of the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office are looking forward to expanding their family with the employees of the Macon Police Department. But our house needs to be ready for more than guests -- we need to make our house a permanent home. By continuing to take our steps together, in time and in sync with each other, the two agencies will merge successfully in 2014 ... and under one Sheriff who is beholden only to the people of Bibb County.”

Davis asked Reichert to allow the consolidation process to “continue smoothly.”

“In 2014, the merged Bibb County Sheriff’s Office will be close to a 900-person organization that can only be effective if the organization’s foundation is solid,” according to the email. “And solid is not a rushed concrete pour.”

Reichert is running for mayor of the new consolidated Macon-Bibb County government against five opponents. Asked if he thought Reichert’s proposal was politically motivated, Davis said, “I think he’s trying to do the best he can in this situation. ... That’s not for me to say.”

Davis said he couldn’t stress enough the cooperation that Burns, Carswell and the entire police department have shown in the run-up to consolidation, especially while Burns was away on medical leave.

“I would hope that level of cooperation ... would continue,” Davis said.

Chris Floore, the mayor’s spokesman, said Friday that Reichert approached Davis with the prospect of assuming the interim chief’s job through the end of the year because of the upcoming merger.

“The mayor wanted to explore the option of seeing if Chief Davis wanted to take over both organizations, to speed that process along,” Floore said.

Asked whether Reichert’s proposal for a Davis-run police department signaled any dissatisfaction with Carswell, who has been interim chief since Burns left on medical leave in February, Floore said no.

“(Carswell) has done a great job,” Floore said. “It had nothing to do with Deputy Chief Carswell. It had more to do with this is the direction the department was headed anyway. If we’re consolidating, why not go ahead and do it?”

Virgil Watkins, chairman of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee, said he had heard rumblings about Davis possibly being asked to lead the department, but he didn’t know that Reichert had officially approached the sheriff about it.

“That is news to me,” Watkins said. “I was in the mayor’s office earlier this week asking about the plans (for interim chief). I was told to give them a week before they said anything.”

Watkins said he can understand “where the mayor’s head was” in trying to woo Davis to oversee the city department, but he said legal hurdles with that idea could have been a problem.

Watkins would not commit to saying who he thought should lead the department, but he suggested Carswell should be considered.

“My gut says we should ride with Carswell through the (end of the year),” Watkins said. “He’s been doing the job with some oversight by Burns. ... I would like to hear what ideas (Carswell) has for the department.”

Carswell has been Watkins’ point man in the department for far longer than Burns has been out of pocket, Watkins said.

“I’ve been dealing primarily with Carswell during the past year or year and a half,” Watkins said.

To contact writer Oby Brown, call 744-4396. To contact writer Andy M. Drury, call 744-4477.

The Telegraph is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service