Monroe hires chief of staff for CMPD

Chief Rodney Monroe has hired a man he worked with in Washington, D.C., and recruited to Richmond, Va., to fill the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police department's new chief of staff position.

Raymond Tarasovic, who took the job Monday, will play one of the biggest roles in the 2,100-person department – helping to implement a reorganization of the department that Monroe believes will bring down crime and improve the perception of safety in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

Tarasovic will make $115,000 a year in the position, which Monroe created shortly after he was hired in June.

As chief of staff, Tarasovic will help Monroe with day-to-day support and oversee media relations, the police attorney and internal affairs, said city spokeswoman Kim McMillan.

Some of those duties were performed by Julie Hill, the head of public affairs, who worked closely with Monroe's Charlotte predecessor. The new chief eliminated her job in August.

Tarasovic officially started the job Monday, according to an e-mail Monroe sent to CMPD employees.

But neither the police department nor the city had put out a public announcement about the hire four days after Tarasovic took the post. Patsy Kinsey, a Democratic city council member who is vice chairwoman of the community safety committee, said she was disappointed that she hadn't heard about the hiring until she got a Friday afternoon phone call from a reporter.

Neither Monroe nor Tarasovic responded to phone calls or e-mail messages seeking comment. In May, Monroe told the Observer that he could bring Tarasovic to Charlotte.

“He's a person who truly, truly understands my philosophy, my strategy,” Monroe said.

An e-mail to police officers and others in the department mentions Tarasovic's background in Richmond and D.C., but not his link to Monroe.

It does mention an interview panel, comprised of Deputy Chief Kerr Putney, Fire Chief Jon Hannan and Assistant City Manager Eric Campbell. Monroe's message to CMPD employees says more than two dozen people applied.

But Kinsey said she wasn't sure about how important that process was to Monroe's decision, especially because he hired a man he worked with for years. The hire was Monroe's decision alone.

“I think it is a slap in the face to our police officers for him to do this,” she said.

The hire is likely to raise some concerns as Monroe continues to reshape the top of the department. Besides Hill's departure, Jerry Sennett, the department's senior deputy chief who has more than 30 years with CMPD, will retire next month. Sennett was a finalist for the chief's job.

“When (Monroe) stood up in front of us at his press conference and said he might bring someone with him, it made me wonder if he could do the job,” Kinsey said. “Why does he need somebody to protect his back?”

Tarasovic, 60, is a Pittsburgh native who spent 24 years with the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, where he worked under Monroe for a time. Tarasovic was working as a security consultant when Monroe recruited him in 2005 to be his second-in-command in Richmond.

He retired from the Richmond force after Monroe left.