A hiring process gone wrong has resulted in Newport Beach Police Chief John Klein stepping down from his post after three decades of service to the department. 

As required by city ordinance, an open recruitment was not held at the time of Klein’s appointment as police chief in July 2007. Citing the ordinance, management employees in the department began calling for a new chief nearly two years after his appointment.

In an e-mailed statement, City Manager Homer Bludau told PublicCEO.com, “Chief Klein is a victim of a strongly divided Police Management Association.”

The Police Management Association requested an investigation into the hiring of Klein, and also into the promotional processes made under Klein and the previous Chief, Bob McDonell, Bludau explained.

Although not willing to comment, City Attorney David Hunt has stated publicly that he was aware of the city ordinance that calls for an internal hiring process.

Bludau and his Human Resources Director were not aware of the Municipal Code requirement to hold an open recruitment.

In the email statement, Bludau added, “All seven Council members expressed strong support for Chief Klein in wanting him to remain, but he based his retirement decision on the divisiveness caused by internal promotional issues and felt his resignation was in the best interests of the department.

“He was the right guy, we all believed this.”

Klein realized that life in the department was going to be difficult due to the circumstances of his hire.

In a phone interview with PublicCEO.com, Klein stated, “As chief, you deal with what comes your way. I was treated very fairly by the city manager. Everything was done out in the open.

“I am very proud of my career in Newport Beach. I can’t think of a better city to work for.”

Klein said that he has been eligible for retirement for some time now. He also felt with the recent discussion about his promotion to chief, that it would be in the best interest of the city to step aside.

“It became a distraction from good police work,” Klein said.

Klein began with the city’s police department in 1979.

“I received a lot of support in city government and the community. [The retirement] was a surprise to a lot of people,” Klein said.

Bludau stated that an interim Chief is being sought until a recruitment for a new chief can take place. Klein’s resignation will take effect July 10.

Bludau announced his own retirement in April of this year. He is set to retire on September 1.

Louis Dettorre can be reached at ldettorre@publicceo.com