By Steven Fletcher
Two months after the city started the search for a new fire chief, officials are now poised to start looking for a new head for the Police Department.
Interim Police Chief Mike Lane confirmed Wednesday that he's retiring on May 23, 2012, leaving the city seven months to find a permanent chief.
A search, Kirk said, will start after she declares the position vacant at the Dec. 13 City Council meeting.
The police chief's position — like the fire chief's job — was taken out from under the umbrella of Civil Service regulation. In this case, the city's voters lifted the police chief's position out from beneath the Civil Service mandates via a referendum vote in 2009, opening the eligibility for the job to both in-house and outside candidates.
At the upcoming meeting, Kirk said, she'll ask the council to pull together the Police Chief Search Committee. The nine-member committee will closely resemble the Fire Chief Search Committee, which is being headed by the city's personnel director, David Bain.
The city formed that committee in September. It has until January to find a new fire chief. Current interim Chief Phil Dench said he will retire in February.
Dench will have served as the city's interim fire chief for nearly three years by the time he steps down, having taking the reins of the department in March 2009.
Lane will retire after 34 years in the department — and he will have served as interim chief for three years as well, having been named to the post in May 2009 upon the retirement of John Beaudette.
Like Dench, Lane has reached the end of his time in the department under Civil Service regulations. He served as head of the Gloucester Police Department's detectives' division for five years before becoming chief.
Lane said he believes the next chief should continue along the path on which the department is currently running.
Lane said he's tried to keep the department fair, open, and transparent during his years as its leader. The incoming chief, he said, should be someone with at least deputy chief experience. That person, he said, also has to know how the Civil Service system works, and how to deal with labor unions.
Kirk said the new chief will also have to lead the department through a new dispatch regulation in the coming years.
The state's Legislature passed a law that requires police departments to dispatch medical aid calls — calls that are currently dispatched by the Fire Department. The next chief, she said, will also have to take a lead in designing a joint public safety facility.
Kirk agreed that Gloucester's new chief should continue the work Lane started. She cited the department's new K-9 unit and the re-opening of the Pike Funeral Home murder case — which led to two arrests in 2010 for a previously unsolved 1976 slaying — as evidence of his successes.
Lane said he always gave the city a day's work for a day's pay and added that he's thankful for the job he's had in the department from patrolman to chief.
A chief, he said, is a facilitator for the Police Department; his job, he said, is getting officers what they need to get their work done right.
"I'm there to serve them," he said.
Steven Fletcher may be contacted at 1-978-283-7000 x3455, or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @stevengdt.