The Police and Fire Commission is widening its search for a new police chief to replace outgoing Chief Noble Wray beyond the ranks of the Madison Police Department.
Attorney Scott Herrick, who is involved with the search, said opening the search outside the city police force will likely bring in applicants from throughout the country and even from other countries. He said making the decision to open the search was key to structuring the selection process and writing the forms.
Herrick said the selection process is in its very beginning stages, and no dates or deadlines have been selected yet.
Herrick also said the commission will include questions about views on policing and budgeting on the applications. He said if the commission had decided to keep the search inside the MPD, the application would be simpler, as the city already has 20 or 30 personnel files on everyone who would be applying. He said opening up the search will mean the application will ask for more information from any outside applicants.
He also said the commission places a great deal of importance on taking time to choose the right person for the job, instead of hurrying the process.
“Definitely, no deadlines,” Herrick said. “Now that this threshold decision has been made, things will accelerate. There is not a rush. The priority is in selecting the best possible candidate. We are more concerned with doing it right than doing it quickly.”
Herrick said Wray officially retires from his position as chief on Jan. 2. He said it would be ambitious to try to have the new chief selected by that date because of the two major holidays that fall during that time frame.
Herrick said the department will run smoothly without the chief for a while. To adapt to this transition period, the department adjusts the number of assistant chiefs to three rather than the two that are present under regular circumstances. He also said the senior assistant chief will act as the interim police chief.
The transition between chiefs does not mean that anything else will shift in the department, Herrick said.
“It’s not a time for big changes in the department because of this hiatus,” Herrick said. “The department continues to function pretty normally.”
Although the selection of a new chief is done independently by the Police and Fire Commission, City Council has hopes for the outcome, Ald. Scott Resnick, District 8, said. He said he hopes to see a new chief who is familiar with Madison’s traditions.
“I want to make sure there’s a chief that understands the unique culture of Madison,” Resnick said. ”I would hope to maintain the strong relationship between the police force and the city of Madison, whether they deal with protests, Halloween weekend or all the other various large scale events that are unique to a college campus, in particular to the city of Madison.”