After months of deliberation, the Madison Police and Fire Commission, which oversees the hiring, promotion, discipline and terminations of police personnel, announced four finalists for the position of Police Chief for the Madison Police Department.
In the press release, the PFC stated that it used community input during its search process and focused on the feedback it received to draft questions. Over the course of August and September, the PFC held listening sessions to gather input from the public on its search process.
The search for the last MPD chief, Mike Koval, raised similar transparency concerns, according to the Wisconsin State Journal. In its current search, the PFC conducted the first round of interviews of candidates on Nov. 17, 18 and 19, Legal Counsel to the PFC Board Jenna Rousseau wrote to The Badger Herald in an email.
The PFC moved into closed sessions during its meetings to conduct interviews and deliberate about the search process.
Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said it is normal for the PFC to go into closed session and prepare for discussion if they are deliberating over a personal matter.
“It seems to me that the city has done public interview processes that seemingly were more public than is currently the case,” Verveer said.
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Verveer said the PFC usually discloses the finalists before they are interviewed.
Though the PFC likely does not need to conduct the interviews in public by state law, Verveer said, public records law requires that finalists for public positions are disclosed.
“The PFC approach seemingly has very poor transparency, or little to no transparency thus far, and I wish there were opportunities for the community to meet the four finalists virtually and ask them questions,” Verveer said.
The finalists of the search are all men — Shon Barnes, Ramon Batista Jr., Christopher Davis and Larry Scirotto.
The PFC said it will release 35-minute recordings of each finalist on the City website Dec. 9.
“The most recent meeting minutes have not yet been approved by the PFC,” Rousseau said. “However, all agendas and past minutes are posted in Legistar.”
PFC minutes and video recordings have not been posted on the Legistar since the PFC’s October meeting, as of Dec. 7.
The PFC is scheduled to meet Tuesday, Dec. 8 to conduct interviews of the finalists, which will also be held in closed session, according to the PFC’s meeting agenda.