Although applications for the next Madison police chief were due Jan. 10, there remains no firm deadline for when the next leader of the Madison Police Department will be announced.
A total of 20 applications to replace former Chief Noble Wray were received, including four from within the department, four from other Wisconsin residents and 12 from out of state, according to a release from the Board of Police and Fire Commissioners.
Attorney Scott Herrick, who is in charge of the search effort, said a schedule for reviewing applications was decided at a meeting last week. There is no imposed deadline for the decision, and commissioners will be meeting for the next several weeks to compare notes and further develop steps in the selection process, he said.
The commissioners are just beginning to get a feel of what the pool of applicants is like, Herrick said. He said he personally had not begun reading the applications yet, and therefore was unable to comment on what kind of candidates were in the selection.
“Optimistically, we are looking at making substantial decisions during the month of February,” Herrick said. “Whether we will be ready to make an appointment by the end of February, it is too soon to say.”
The board is putting an emphasis on choosing the best person for the job rather than speeding up the process, Herrick said.
Meanwhile, MPD is adapting to not having a current police chief by adjusting the number of assistant chiefs to three rather than the two that are present under normal circumstances, he said.
MPD spokesperson Joel DeSpain said the department continues to function with Assistant Police Chief Randy Gaber serving as interim police chief.
“I think everyone in the department wants to continue to see the department be a leader in the country in community-based policing and trust-based policing,” DeSpain said. “Whoever takes over will continue the department on the path we’ve been on.”
DeSpain said he hopes the department will continue its strategy of being proactive in the community to tackle problems before they get out of hand. He said he wants to see the department change for the better but maintain the Madison philosophy of policing interactively with the community, he said.
Herrick said the transition between chiefs would not mean any drastic changes for the police department.
Ald. Scott Resnick, District 8, said City Council does not have a role in the hiring process, but he has a great deal of confidence in the commissioner’s decision process.
Resnick said he hopes the selected candidate “will be able to bridge many of the other issues the police department has had following several of the shootings, and will be an advocate for university students, considering the interesting nature that UW-Madison has when it relates to safety.”