"It might sound a little corny, but I just didn't feel good about walking away from the organization when they've had such turmoil," Chief Flint said in an interview. "The last thing they needed right now was to be looking for a chief."
A contract for Chief Flint, who began serving as interim police chief in July 2011, was approved by the Atherton City Council at its May 16 meeting as part of its consent calendar, with no discussion.
Later in the meeting, however, each council member took the opportunity to praise Chief Flint. "Welcome, we're glad to have you," said council member Jerry Carlson.
"We're so pleased that you're bringing a whole measure of professionalism to Atherton," said council member Jim Dobbie.
Chief Flint, who had been receiving approximately $3,800 a month in retirement pay while working for Atherton under a temporary contract, will have to give up that money while working as a town employee.
"I needed to step up to the plate and continue my work here, and help the town," Chief Flint said.
He will be paid $14,500 per month, his current salary, with a housing allowance of an additional $1,200 per month and insurance and paid leave benefits. He will be eligible for annual cost-of-living increases.
Chief Flint said that while his pay in Atherton will be less than the $186,000 a year he was receiving when he left Santa Rosa as police chief, his ultimate retirement benefits will not suffer because they are determined by the highest year of salary he received as a public employee. He will, however, give up several years of cost of living increases, he said.
Chief Flint has 35 years of multi-agency law enforcement experience including serving as police chief in Santa Rosa and Elk Grove. He also worked during his career with the California Highway Patrol in Redwood City and the Sacramento County sheriff's department, and was assistant police chief in Citrus Heights.
He is a retired Army colonel, and served in the Army Reserves and California National Guard.
Police Lt. Joe Wade said department employees are happy to have Chief Flint on board. "We're very, very happy," said Lt. Wade, who has been with the department through four police chiefs. He praised the chief's wide range of law enforcement experience. "He brings a level of experience that you can't get from the inside," Lt. Wade said. "He's seen each different sector of law enforcement and he's bringing all that experience here."
Lt. Wade said that among the improvements Chief Flint has made in the department are "very solid lines of communication." Lt. Wade quoted the chief as telling department members early on: "Here are some things we need to do better, and one of them is that we all need to be on the same page." Now, Lt. Wade said, "we're doing that."
Other benefits Chief Flint will receive under the contract include four weeks of vacation per year (with credit for 160 hours to start), sick leave at the level given other management employees, starting with 160 hours, and one week a year of administrative leave, with 40 hours credited.
While the contract says the town will give Chief Flint health insurance, dental insurance, vision insurance, long-term disability insurance, and retirement benefits, it also says he will provide his own health insurance.
While the contract is for three years, it can be terminated with six months' notice from the town or 60 days' notice from Chief Flint. It will also continue year-to-year after the three-year term unless either the town or Chief Flint gives 90 days' notice of intent not to renew.