Recently the city of Henderson has gone outside the city for its newest police chief, getting into the expense of hiring an executive search firm that charges at least a $100,000 retainer and in most cases 33 percent of all-in first year compensation with a cap.
In their search for a new police chief the city of Henderson contracted the services of Ralph Andersen and Associates out of Rocklin, California, again, making it clear that they consider any Las Vegas contenders — as well as any comparable employee-search agencies — as incompetent. If I am not mistaken, Lucas Group in Las Vegas offers the same type of service as Andersen and Associates. The city of Henderson went as far as Arlington, Texas to hire a new police chief with the same length of experience, education and qualification as the Henderson Acting Police Chief since last May,
Todd Peters. Arlington, Texas Police Department deputy chief LaTesha Watson apparently will become the newest Police Chief starting this coming November.
Henderson City Manager, Bob Murnane released a statement saying: “LaTesha Watson brings proven leadership skills, extensive law enforcement experience and a vision for building on the success of the Henderson Police Department to the role of police chief. As the next leader of our police force, her number one job will be making sure Henderson remains one of the safest cities in America.” What makes Mr. Murnane believe that Todd Peters could not bring a vision for building on the success of the Henderson Police Department? After all, he has been acting as chief of the second largest city in Nevada for the last four months without any problem.
Todd Peters joined the Henderson Police the same year (1994) as LaTesha Watson, when Henderson had a population of less than 100,000, while Watson joined the force of Hutchins, Dallas County, Texas when it had fewer than 5,000 residents (according to the 2010 census, Hutchins population count was only 5,338 in 1994). Peters has 24 years of experience on the job in Henderson.
According to news reports Watson has been in supervisory roles for 12 years. She has served in a variety of capacities including patrol property and evidence, and as an executive officer for SWAT. She was named deputy chief in 2014.
Deputy Chief Todd Peters has held a variety of leadership roles. According to the city of Henderson’s webpage, during his time as a patrol officer, Todd Peters worked in patrol operations and became a field-training officer. In 1997 he was transferred to the Detective Bureau where he investigated Property Crimes, Adult and Child Sexual Abuse cases and Child Abuse cases. He was promoted to sergeant in 2000 and supervised various patrol squads, was the academy sergeant at the Southern Desert Regional Police Academy and sergeant in charge of the Problem-Solving Unit. In 2005 he was promoted to lieutenant where he first served as a Patrol Watch Commander. He served in the department’s Professional Standards Bureau for Internal Affairs, background investigations and support functions as well as the accreditation unit through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). As a lieutenant in the Criminal Investigations Division he oversaw Homeland Security, Robbery/Homicide, the Special Victims Unit and Property and Financial Crimes. He was promoted to captain in 2011. He was named Deputy Chief
in August 2012 and was named acting Chief in May 2017.
With such an impressive résumé, what was the purpose for the national search? Mr. Murnane should keep in mind that in 2015 when the city of Henderson was looking for a City Manager after several months and $30,000 hunting through the country to find the best city manager, City Council chose Mr. Murnane who at the time was the Senior Director of Public Works, Parks and Recreation. It turns out the city didn’t need to go far to find what the Council considered the best fit for the job. Personally, I don’t see the point for Mr. Murnane to try fixing something that was not broken.
After 19 years with the City of Henderson, Mr. Murnane was happy he was considered for the top job of city manager; why go to the state of Texas to bring in someone with the comparable qualifications of Todd Peters and yet with very little knowledge of the State of Nevada and the City of Henderson?
Perly Viasmensky is the General Manager of the Las Vegas Tribune. She writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Perly Viasmensky,
email her at pviasmensky@lasvegas tribune.com.