The University of Colorado Police Department will cut its three commander positions as part of a department-wide reorganization to "eliminate a redundant layer of management" and save the department more than $300,000 a year.
CU police Chief Melissa Zak released memorandum detailing the layoff plan Monday, and the positions will be cut 10 days from the posting.
In an interview Tuesday, Zak stressed the layoffs were not in any way performance-based, but said an administrative review completed last fall recommended the department trim down its executive ranks.
"We were very managerial-heavy for a 46-commissioned-personnel department," Zak said. "The decision to eliminate positions was in no way a reflection upon the commanders' performance in the organization."
One of the three commanders, Robert Axmacher, already left the department earlier this month to take a position with the Larimer County District Attorney's Office.
It is not clear yet what will happen to the other two commanders, Mark Heyart and Jason Wade, but CU officials expressed hope they might remain in the department in different positions.
Zak said while the loss of the commanders was a "difficult time" for the department, she said she thinks of it as more of a "reeingineering," as opposed to layoffs.
"It's a complete shift within the organization," Zak said.
The reorganization comes after recommendations from an administrative review requested by then-Chief Joe Roy last year.
"From time to time, campus departments will go through an administrative review to find ways to be more efficient and more effective in how they are offering services to the campus," Boulder campus spokesman Ryan Huff said. "We certainly want to be as efficient as possible, and a fresh set of eyes on how we do business is how we improve."
One of the recommendations from the review was to split the campus' department of public safety — which had previously included the CU Police Department and the university's Parking and Transportation Services — into two separate departments.
With Zak now solely in charge of the police department, the memo said the three commanders below the chief and her deputy chiefs were no longer needed.
"The commander-level positions provide redundancy in supervision and leadership that is already performed by the director-level positions, and their other duties will be absorbed by sergeants and corporals."
As part of the reorganization, the CU deputy chief and director of business, information and technology services division position will be restructured and renamed as the deputy chief of support services. The deputy chief of police services will be renamed the deputy chief of operations.
The department will save more than $300,000 a year from the elimination of the commanders and will use the savings to "allocate staffing and support for previously vacant positions and neglected functions."
Zak said the department will look into reestablishing its corporal rank as a way to retain officers after spending resources training and recruiting them, and will also look to beef up its administrative support team.
Zak also hopes the elimination of the commander level will result in more direct communication in the department.
"I think that given the size of our department, we need to continuously evaluate who is doing the work and how the information from the top gets communicated to the line-level personnel," Zak said. "The more levels you have in between the directors and the line-level personnel, the more opportunities you have for misfires and miscommunications.
"I think now we will be able to better communicate within the department."