It's good for Gloucester's sake that Mike Lane, who's done an excellent job serving as interim chief of the city's Police Department for three full years now, isn't really bowing out today, his retirement date.
Lane and Mayor Carolyn Kirk have agreed that he will, in fact, stay on board — potentially until October — while the city carries out its search for a permanent police chief. That's something Gloucester has not had since the embattled John Beaudette stepped down in May 2009.
But neither the mayor, the local Police Chief Search Committee, nor the city's search consulting firm — in this case, BadgeQuest of Yarmouth — should venture forward with an eye toward taking their time.
If the dysfunctional fire chief search — now in its ninth month, after a seven-month delay at the start — has taught us anything, it's that the city's search ordinance is plodding at best. While the mayor should finally be ready to pick a new fire chief any day now, we can only hope the police chief search goes more smoothly than its Fire Department cohort.
There are signs this is already a new and improved version, with BadgeQuest already closing in on the May 30 application deadline for candidates from both inside and outside the Gloucester Police Department. Then, it will be a matter of the consulting firm narrowing down the initial list of applicants to semifinalists that would go to the search committee for review and public interviews.
That, frankly, cannot take another five months.
Yes, we're grateful that Lane is agreeing to stay on board until the city hires a new chief. His commitment to seeing a smooth transition reflects the class he's shown in leading the department for the past three years.
But let's also hope that Lane doesn't have to extend his role for another five months. There's no reason Gloucester and its residents should wait beyond August to have a new chief on board.