By TODD KLEFFMAN
10:56 AM EST, December 20, 2011
LANCASTER — After nearly a year of turmoil within its police department, Lancaster City Council brought in a veteran outside lawman to help restore order.
Rodney Kidd, a retired sergeant who worked 18 years for Louisville Metro Police, was hired Monday to become Lancaster’s first official police chief since Mayor Brenda Powers dismissed longtime chief Ronald Lamb in January. Kidd, who will be sworn in on Jan. 3, takes over an undermanned department with only five active, on-duty officers.
“Obviously, you know some of the problems our department is facing,” Councilman Bret Baierlein said during an open interview that was conducted during Monday’s called meeting. “We’ve had problems with professionalism, or lack of professionalism. Pretty significant attrition. Our command structure is ... well, I’m not sure there is a clear structure.”
Kidd replied quickly, “I like a challenge. If you’re having problems with ethics and professionalism, I can cure that. I’m only 50. I plan on working for a long time, and I look at this as the start of a better career.”
Kidd retired in 2007 as commander of Louisville Metro’s River Patrol Unit, where he supervised 28 officers and worked with a $1.3-million budget. Retirement did not suit him, so Kidd went to work in 2008 as a patrol officer in Simpsonville, where he lives and currently is employed. His grandmother, Edith Kidd of Stanford, recently moved into a nursing home, and Kidd plans to move into her home on Powell Street.
Kidd learned of the opening from his cousin, Lancaster officer Tim Royce. The two only see each other about twice a year, Kidd said, and he does not expect his blood relationship with Royce to create any problems.
Kidd’s experience on the street and as an administrator made him the right fit for the job, Councilman Jesse Wagoner said afterward.
“His background and administrative experience was the key,” Wagoner said. “And he does have experience writing grants that will be a benefit as well.”
Wagoner and other council members said Kidd’s status as an outsider, untangled in local politics and personalities, will benefit the department and the city.
“I think it will be good, in a sense, that he doesn’t come in knowing everybody,”¿Wagoner said.
Powers moved to hire Kidd, and the council voted unanimously in support, with council members Maggie Mick and Brandon McGlone absent. Agreement between the mayor and council on the police chief has been a long time coming and has been the subject of some fairly contentious council meetings that drew large crowds to city hall.
After Powers dismissed Lamb in January, she wanted to name officer Allen Weston chief, but the council declined to go along but agreed Weston could be assistant chief until a more thorough candidate search could be performed. After one of the prospective candidates spurned Lancaster’s offer in favor of another job, Powers again tried to name Weston chief and the council again shot her down, saying it wanted a chief with more administrative experience.
Powers was diplomatic after Kidd was hired. “That’s what the council wanted, and Mr. Kidd will do a very good job, I believe,” she said.
Weston was not at Monday’s meeting, and no one from the public attended.
Kidd said with such a small department, he doesn’t believe an assistant chief is needed. Council members suggested Kidd will have the freedom to restructure the department as he sees fit and also update policies and procedures to help the department perform more professionally and efficiently.
Kidd promised to work “hand-in-hand” with the sheriff’s department, combat the city’s drug problem and become more involved with the schools. He also pledged to be an active presence on the streets, at restaurants and businesses, and at public events.
“The big thing is getting everybody playing together,”¿he said. “Then you’ve got to get the community behind the police department, and you don’t do that sitting behind a desk.”
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