Posts Tagged ‘picking a chief’

How would you set up the the process to pick a new chief of police for a mid-sized city?

Amidst a corruption scandal, Pittsburgh’s police chief resigned this Spring.  (He has announced he’ll plead guilty to the charges against him.)  This happened with an election for mayor already underway; a short time later, the heavily-favored incumbent dropped out of the race and announced that he would leave the choice of a new chief to his successor.  In a post on March 6 (here), I spelled out what my criteria would be for a picking a new chief.  These included unquestioned integrity, experience as a chief or deputy chief in a police department not less than half the size of Pittsburgh, and a commitment to diversity of all kinds in the ranks.  I said that no excellent candidate, whether an insider or an outsider, should be ignored, and that the process of selection the new chief would be critical, given the circumstances of the chief’s resignation.

Imagine that you have the ear of the new mayor-to-be.  (Which candidate this is will be largely determined in the Democratic Party primary, one week from today; whoever wins the primary is overwhelmingly likely to win the general election in November.) What would be your advice on how the process of selecting the new chief should work?  I can think of a number of possibilities, including:

1) Put together a small group of experts — present and former chiefs of police, law enforcement experts, etc. — to give private, candid advice to the mayor-to-be, regarding what to look for in a successful chief.

2) Create a citizens advisory board to advise the mayor on this important choice.

3) Hold a town hall meeting or two to gather a large and wide swath of public comments on the choice.

4) Conduct focus groups, each with members drawn from all of the important stakeholder groups: citizens, rank and file officers, police union officials, the faith community, the business community, neighborhood advocates, etc., to ascertain what kind of person, with what kind of qualities, the mayor should look for.

What are your ideas?  Have you been through this process before, in any role?  I would very much like to hear from anyone and everyone with thoughts on this.  The choice is coming for Pittsburgh, and it’s going to be crucial.

Thanks for your help.