New Lawrence city manager refuses to make decision on $1 million police over-hire, sends it to City Commission

In a letter to the City Commission on Monday, City Manager Tom Markus said he refused when asked last week to unilaterally approve the police department’s request to hire 17 officers over the maximum allowed.

Markus, who has been on the job one week, said the practice the past three years of having the city manager approve the police department’s over-hires — without City Commission input — “should end.” He went on to say he thought the City Commission should limit the over-hires this year to 14, not 17, and never again consider this type of request outside of the regular budget process.

“Knowing …our [police] department believes they are understaffed, in need of more equipment and new expanded facilities, I wanted to be supportive,” Markus wrote. “And yet I am concerned as a manager that this practice of over hire is not, in my opinion, a good management practice except in rare or emergency conditions.”

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