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Rutland police chief search taking shape~ RH May 17, 2015

Rutland police chief search taking shape
By Kathleen Phalen Tomaselli
Staff Writer | May 17, 2015
The search for Rutland City’s next police chief is moving forward with the May 29 application deadline less than two weeks away. City officials hope to make a decision by early September.

“The submitted résumés are in the double digits,” said Larry Jensen, chairman of the Police Commission. “The advertising was put through the International Association of Chiefs of Police.”

The Police Commission is responsible for hiring police chiefs and Jensen is head of the search committee. Because the position affects so many in the community, the committee extends beyond the Police Commission, he said.

“We want to make certain we have input from all the constituencies,” he said. “It’s important we get this right.”

The search committee comprises five commission members, Mayor Christopher Louras, the president of the Board of Aldermen, the chairman of the board’s Public Safety Committee, two representatives from the police department and three members of the public.

The former chief, Jim Baker, left his position at the end of last year to become director of law enforcement operations for IACP in Washington, D.C. He had been chief in Rutland since 2012.

Rutland is looking for a chief with attributes similar to Baker.

“We want to continue the path we’re on,” Jensen said. “Jim Baker is a model for us.”

Baker said the recent change in the department is because of the efforts of many.

“In my opinion, the police department got to where it was (in the past) because of older policing (approaches),” he said in a phone interview Saturday from Washington. “Today there is a more holistic approach.”

Members of the search committee prepared a list of attributes they hope to see in the next chief.

According to the job ad on the IACP website (www.theiacp.org), Rutland is looking for a change agent: Someone skilled in consensus building, customer service orientation, personnel management, discipline, labor relations and fiscal management. The city also wants someone who is open-minded, fair and consistent; and someone innovative and experienced in implementing positive change.

Once the applications are initially reviewed, IACP will select the most attractive candidates and do preliminary research.

“They will check various files and news reports,” Jensen said.

IACP will also conduct phone interviews.

The best of those candidates will be forwarded to the Rutland search committee, which will review files and pick two to five candidates to invite for personal interviews.

There will be two interview panels: The search committee and a panel of police chiefs. Baker will serve on the chiefs panel.

“We will compare notes,” Jensen said.

Once the panels have narrowed the candidate pool, there will be an extensive background investigation.

“We hope to name someone soon after Labor Day,” Jensen said.

Acting Police Chief David Covell’s contract with the city runs to the end of the year.

Covell has continued what Baker started with Project VISION. He has been actively involved in crime data mapping and community policing, often walking streets to talk to residents.

“Those neighborhood walks are powerful,” Baker said. “Police are reinventing themselves and Rutland is ahead of the curve in the country.”

Jensen also commended Covell’s work.

“I believe David is doing a terrific job,” he said. “And we are grateful he has taken this on.”

Covell is not sure what he will be doing next.

“Based on the chief and what the commission feels,” Covell said. “We’ll see if there is still a role for me.”

kathleen.phalentomaselli@rutlandherald.org

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