Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

New Chief Seeks to Revitalize Department

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

New Chief Seeks to Revitalize Department

Article excerpt


FERNANDINA BEACH -- Police Chief James Hurley is glad to be back in Florida after more than a year in Texas.

"I love the area, and the people are warm, welcoming and encouraging," he said. "In Texas, I had built a gazebo in my back yard with a Key West theme -- fish net, ship's wheel, the whole nine yards. The neighbors told me they didn't think I'd made the transition from Florida."

Originally from a small beach town in Delaware, he's more than familiar with the "small-beach-town-discovered" syndrome. And he has plans for this small beach town which he now calls home.

City Manager Michael Czymbor said Hurley, who started May 1, is doing a "splendid" job so far.

"He's the perfect fit for that position. He has all the personal characteristics of what we need for that position at this time," he said. "He's a great addition to the management staff. He has a great sense of humor, too, and you need that in government work."

Hurley said the police department has had its morale problems. But some of those problems were caused by the leadership void between the time former Chief Robert C. "Chip" Hammond retired in October and when he arrived.

"Morale is an issue that drives an organization and I understood it would be one of my top priorities. There were a few issues you could expect to occur absent a defined leader," Hurley said. "But we now have procedures in place that will allow for grievances to be aired in an appropriate way. I tell everyone that we're not a family but we sure are like one."

He said his style is to listen to all sides and to resolve conflict before it becomes detrimental.

"We address things quickly," he said. "I try to listen to everyone but eventually I have to make the decision. I try to be fair. I respect seniority and understand the importance of continuity," Hurley said.

He's already changed the work patrol schedule from a seven- to 14-day pay period. That way, he said, patrol officers can work four days and have the same four days off each week, and have consistent paychecks.

"That's important for planning purposes and family life," he said. "With a stable schedule, you can go back to school, for example. …

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