City again promotes deputy chief

Police veteran Padgett becomes top cop in second attempt

March 26, 2013

West Allis - The city again has a new police chief and, like another candidate who recently turned down the job offer, he's a familiar face in the community.

The West Allis Police and Fire Commission selected Charles Padgett, a 24-year veteran of the department who has been serving as acting chief since mid-November after the retirement of Michael Jungbluth.

The commission chose Padgett on Thursday, roughly a month after the job was initially offered to another finalist, retired West Allis Deputy Police Chief Rick Balistrieri, who later declined the post. At the time, Kempen, who favored Padgett, said there was only a razor's edge between the two finalists.

Kempen made it clear Padgett was no mere second-best choice.

"Chief Padgett has demonstrated not only a professional ability to operate the department, but also the people skills necessary to do an outstanding job," Police and Fire Commission President Joseph Kempen said in a news release announcing the appointment. "His insight and commitment to the principles of community-oriented policing will be an asset to the department and the citizens of West Allis."

Hired, and now hiring

Padgett started with the department as a patrol officer and rose through the ranks, eventually becoming deputy chief of operations in March 2011 before his transitional appointment as acting chief last fall.

"I'm pleased and honored to be able to be in this position with the number of great men and women working in the department," Padgett said of his new appointment.

In fact, part of his first tasks will be to add to the rank and file, given the department's recent spate of open positions. Eleven police officers retired by the end of December and nine more by the end of February, Padgett said.

"Not in the time that I've been here have we hired like this," he said, noting that he was among a half-dozen hirees in 1988 and that was considered a large number.

Even in his capacity as acting chief, Padgett and his staff have been trying to make sure enough officers are on the streets. The department has hired eight, including four experienced officers from other departments, he said. They are now in training.

Prior to that, other experienced officers were hired and trained, Padgett said.

Department cohesiveness

But numbers are only part of the challenge.

"We have a lot of new officers and a lot of officers new in command positions," Padgett said, and they must not only be trained well initially, but receive proper guidance and counseling as they go along.

All during this building up process, supervisors have had to constantly manage with reduced manpower, while still keeping overtime to a minimum, Padgett said. He is pleased and relieved with the results.

"We're holding well with the manpower we have," Padgett said. "People are stepping up and performing very, very well. Nothing is falling sort."

Whether someone will be named to take his place as deputy chief is up to the Police and Fire Commission. Padgett said he hasn't spoken with the commission about that, yet.

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