, Gloucester, MA

July 31, 2012

Police chief search narrowed to final 7

By Steven Fletcher
Staff Writer

---- — And then there were five.

Next week, said City Councilor and search committee member Paul McGeary, the city’s Police Chief Search Committee will cut the pool of seven semifinalists in Gloucester’s search for a police chief down to four or five.

And while the six-month search began with 42 resumes, the committee’s next cut will narrow the remaining applicants and forward their resumes to an assessment center, with public interviews to follow on the weekend of Aug. 18.

McGeary declined to give the names of the seven semifinalists or discuss how many came from inside or outside the Gloucester Police Department.

As it prepares to make those cuts, the committee and the City Council’s Ordinance and Administration subcommittee, McGeary said, plan to let the search wrap up before making any changes to the governing ordinance.

“I think we’ve agreed to move forward and rewrite the ordinance afterward,” said McGeary.

Any delay in the search process at this point, McGeary said, could mean the risk of losing one of the semifinalists to another municipality, and rewriting the city’s search ordinance, McGeary said, would cause some delay. The candidates that weren’t picked, he added, didn’t come close to meeting the ordinance requirements.

Gloucester’s police chief search ordinance — similar to the one use to bring in new Fire Chief Eric Smith, and one that sparked disputes over experience qualifications in the final days before he gaines a 6-3 initial council approval — requires three years’ experience at a rank of lieutenant or higher rank, and a master’s degree in police science or a related field. All seven semifinalists, McGeary said, meet the ordinance requirements without question.

Going forward under the current ordinance is not a unanimous choice, even among members of the search committee.

According to minutes of a July 16 Ordinance and Administration meeting, Dr. Richard Maybury, a search committee member, said the council should revise the ordinance first.

A little delay, the minutes record him saying, would pay off in the credibility and defensibility of the search committee’s work and avoid controversies such as the one spawned by the fire chief’s search. Currently, he added, the committee was relying on the search consultant too much.

Maybury could not be reached for comment on this story.

According to the minutes, Maybury said that flaws in the ordinance may have caused potential candidates not to apply. He recommended making the master’s degree a preference, but not a requirement.

McGeary, however, said the committee has to finish its search before October, when Michael Lane has to stop serving as interim chief. Lane retired in May, and agreed to stay until October, but state pension rules prevent him from staying on any longer, McGeary said.

After the public interviews, the committee will submit its top choices — no more than five and no fewer than three — to Mayor Carolyn Kirk, who will make the final choice subject to council confirmation.

Kirk opened the search lDec. 13, with the announcement that f Lane would be retiring at the end of May. The Search Committee has worked with Yarmouth based BadgeQuest, the city’s consultant, on the search.

Steven Fletcher may be contacted at 1-978-283-7000 x3455, or Follow him on Twitter at @stevengdt.