Community shares ideas on police chief search
Citizens shared their ideas for priorities in Henderson’s next police chief Tuesday night at a focus group in the City Hall Chambers.
Thirty-two signed the registration coming through the door, and a room of nearly 40 participated with the team from Management and Personnel Services Group of Raleigh. Ray Griffin, the city manager, explained how MAPS would assist the process in the search. Becky Veazey, president of MAPS, explained how an assessment center team would participate.
After a 70-minute meeting, the group had listed 25 characteristics and traits desired and marked priorities from that list. Community policing was involved in several of the points and in prioritizing.
A “long-term, heart-felt personal commitment to Henderson” and the style of management also topped the list.
“Is there implied in any of this that the new chief will know the law?” asked Rick Brand toward the end of the forum discussion, after more than 20 points had been listed.
His point, knowledge of the law, placed third among nine top priorities selected by a group vote.
Tied with that was working well with economically depressed areas and low-income populations.
Other top priorities were having an open-door policy of personal accessibility, good leadership and management abilities, cooperation with the sheriff’s office and understanding the value of faith-based organizations.
Henderson is searching for a new chief following the retirement of Keith Sidwell May 31. Capt. Marcus Barrow is serving as the interim chief and several in the group favorably referenced him during the meeting, indicating a hope he would apply.
The next step in the process is for Griffin and Veazey to finalize the job posting. Earlier focus groups were held with all three shifts of the police department, producing about 100 points according to Griffin, and the city council, which totaled 17 points.
The job posting will be for about 30 days, into mid- to late October. The city human resources office will ensure qualified applications forward on to the assessment center team, and that team will produce four to eight finalists.
Griffin said he hoped to do final interviews the second week of December and have an offer extended before Christmas.
Veazey, whose team has executed police chief searches throughout the state, said the assessment center team would be selected jointly with Griffin. The assessment center’s responsibility is to provide the city manager with finalists.
The assessment will include interaction between candidates providing more than the typical question-and-answer interview. Veazey said the process also has a strong consistency in how each finalist is assessed.
The final selection rests with Griffin.
“It is a validation process that is necessary for this very important position,” Griffin said of using the assessment center. “My goal is to be able to say to the next chief that they are truly the best person for the job. And to be able to tell you, we got the best person for the job.”
Griffin before and after assured citizen input was important. Veazey echoed the comments.
“Our goal is to help the city manager find the very best possible police chief,” Veazey said. “The city manager has the final say in hiring a new chief of police.”
Answering questions by citizens, Griffin said that he would assemble the assessment team of “select people who can best contribute to that process.”
“And we will support your decision,” said Gary Morgan, whose point for a heart-felt personal commitment started the input process.
The job is expected to be posted in several arenas frequented by police chiefs, including the international chiefs association, associations in states bordering North Carolina with the possible exception of Georgia, and with the N.C. League of Municipalities.
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