Cheyenne Councilman: Chief Kozak Tried To Intimidate Me
Cheyenne City Council Ward II representative Dicky Sanor is responding to comments Cheyenne Police Chief Brian Kozak recently made about him on Facebook.
Shanor's statement included the following remarks:
Dicky Shanor, City Councilman Ward 2, firstname.lastname@example.org
On May 31 the Cheyenne Police Department (CPD) Facebook page posted a letter, signed by the Police Chief, referencing me by name related to a decision the City’s ten-member Governing Body (the Council and the Mayor) unanimously made in approving the City’s proposed budget on 2nd reading as amended. (The vote was 9-0 with 1 Councilman absent). The letter was later reiterated in a CPD press release. The letter suggested that I alone “amended the budget” to move money from the CPD to the Downtown Development Authority (DDA). This is inaccurate and misleading and as a result I feel compelled to respond. Few things are more harmful to a community than the politicization of law enforcement.
As a councilman, a part-time position, I do not have the time, resources, or desire to engage in a public relations contest with the full-time communications staff at CPD or City Hall. Therefore, this will be my official and only response.
Support for Law Enforcement and a Safe Community
The suggestion that I am unsupportive of the CPD could not be further from the truth. I take pride in my record of support for law enforcement as an elected official and my service as a former contract prosecutor for the Laramie County District Attorney’s Office. I am very appreciative of the men and women who put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe. I will always ardently support them. For example, in March, I supported the authorization of three new police patrol positions. In the proposed budget before us now, I support the over $400,000 increase to the police patrol division. This increase includes a new police captain position and extra overtime for Frontier Days. My support will remain unwavering.
Community safety is paramount. The CPD and the services it provides are crucial. My support and continued support of the CPD demonstrates my commitment to the importance of the police force to the community.
Inaccuracies in Facebook Post and Press Release
The proposed budget ordinance does not direct money to be taken from CPD and given to the DDA. During the budget process, each item in the budget stands alone and the item’s budget is either increased, decreased, or remains the same. Amendments make no specific designation of funds from one department to another. By law, all budget amendments must result in a balanced budget.
To balance the budget, the proposed budget amendment is a temporary hiring freeze that applies to all city general fund departments until a savings of $116,934 in payroll costs is realized or new revenues are found. The proposed freeze applies to all general fund departments—not just the CPD. The fire department is excluded from the hiring freeze due to an existing union agreement. The amount to be saved from the hiring freeze, $116,934, is approximately 0.2% of the City’s proposed $56,080,399 general fund budget.
Fortunately, discussions after the meeting with members of the City Council resulted in discovery of additional funds adequate to balance this shortfall. As such, a hiring freeze is not necessary and unlikely to exist in the final budget.
I am but one of the nine City Council members who, along with the Mayor, comprise the ten-member Governing Body of the City that votes on the budget. I cannot “amend the budget” myself (or any other ordinance for that matter) as was suggested by the Police Chief. Passing ordinances or amendments take a majority yes vote. The initial amendment passed with an 8-2 vote, with Councilman Laybourn and the Mayor as noes. But it was eventually passed unanimously as part of the full amended budget proposal on second reading. That means the Mayor and all eight of the Council members present voted yes, none against (9-0).1
The only conclusion I can reach as to why I would be the only member singled out by name in a unanimous vote scenario is that there was intent to intimidate me for some political reason. Everyone should pause to think about the ramifications of the highest ranking police officer in the City, with the Mayor’s approval, using his official public resources this way.
It is my hope that this letter contributes to formulating an informed position on this issue. Despite the unnecessary drama, I anticipate cooler heads will prevail and lead to consensus for the third reading of the proposed budget.''
In comments posted about the proposed 2020 city budget on the Cheyenne Police Department Facebook page on Friday, Police Chief Brian Kozak mentioned councilman Shanor by name:
''On May 28th Councilmember Dicky Shanor amended the budget by freezing future police officer vacancies to fund the Downtown Development Authority (DDA). I felt it was important for the community to know how this would impact police service. We currently have two vacancies and are expecting three more in June due to retirements. Freezing these five vacancies along with the impact of military deployments and work-related injury leave will cause a 23% (26 officer) shortage in police staffing.''