Mckinney Courier-gazette > News
City manager mum on police chief matter
It's clear few, if any, McKinney city staff members and city council members were aware of former Police Chief Doug Kowalski's reassignment before it happened.
And while Mayor Brian Loughmiller and Councilman Ray Ricchi have expressed their disagreement with the decision, it appears a done deal. Though no one with the city, including City Manager Jason Gray, has given a specific reason for the change.
On Oct. 5, Gray removed Kowalski as police chief and replaced him with Deputy City Manager Joe Williams, whom Gray's worked with in three consecutive cities over the past 10 years.
Emails between Gray and Kowalski on Oct. 4 indicate Gray said he wanted to meet with Kowalski the next morning to go over Kowalski's self-evaluation, completed Aug. 10. Upon meeting, Gray told Kowalski of his removal as chief.
"I no longer have confidence in your ability to remain in your position as the Police Chief for the City of McKinney," Gray stated in a memo to Kowalski. "I believe a change is in order."
Gray goes on to state that he made the decision "after careful consideration of all of the circumstances," and that he is temporarily reassigning Kowalski to "special assistant to the city manager." Gray also asked Kowalski for his badge, weapon, ID, keys and all other city property in his possession.
Further, Gray told Kowalski that while under the reassignment he is expected to "temporarily refrain from communicating (either directly or through any third party) with the city council, city employees, or media," and to "engage in official city communications with [Gray] or [his] designee only."
He also told Kowalski to refrain from visiting McKinney Police Department and city facilities. The restrictions, Gray states in the memo, are "to avoid disruption of city and police operations," and failure to follow them would be considered "insubordination" and grounds for withdrawal of the agreement and for "possible termination."
About an hour after Gray's meeting with Kowalski, Gray emailed to the mayor and city council his decision and the memo he gave Kowalski. In his email, Gray states, "For a variety of reasons, I no longer have confidence in his ability to lead the McKinney Police Department in a satisfactory manner. Doug is being reassigned and placed on paid administrative leave immediately."
Gray also notified the mayor and council he had appointed Williams as the new chief, and asked them not to forward the information to anyone.
Gray did not notify police of the decision until another hour later, shortly after 11 a.m., and did so by sending via email a link to a YouTube video of his announcement.
This week, following a special meeting with Gray, Ricchi and Loughmiller voiced to the public their disagreement with Gray's decision. Council members Geralyn Kever, Roger Harris and David Brooks, however, said that though it could have been handled better, they support Gray's decision.
Kever on Tuesday deferred comment on the situation to Loughmiller, but reportedly told the Dallas Morning News on Wednesday that Gray has the "right to make personnel assignments and reassignments."
Gray could not be reached for comment all week.