HARTFORD —— Since it began work in February, the recruiting firm hired to assist in the search for the city's next police chief has learned a few things about what people want in a leader.
They want a chief who is accessible, who lives in the city and who has "a good working knowledge" of the community, said Robert Wasserman, chairman of Strategic Policy Partnership, the Massachusetts-based recruiting firm.
Wasserman said he and his colleagues have done extensive research about the city and its police department, and have listened to what residents, community groups, police and officials at city hall have to say.
All of this data will be considered when the firm moves on to the candidate interview process.
"It's really important that the community sees that what they said is a factor included in this," Wasserman said.
In a week or so, the firm will put out announcements — on the city's website and through media outlets — soliciting applications for the job. It also will seek applications through police professional associations, Wasserman said.
After screening the applications, 10 to 12 candidates will be selected for phone interviews. Six to eight candidates will then be chosen for in-person interviews, and that pool will be narrowed to three to five finalists, Wasserman said. The finalists will participate in a public meeting during which they will give presentations and field questions.
Mayor Pedro Segarra said he would meet with the finalists and probably appoint a chief from within that group.
Based on his research, Wasserman said, an ideal candidate for Hartford would be someone in the middle of his or her career.
He added: "The person that comes out on top of this is usually chosen because of how they do, not who they know."
On Wednesday, Strategic Policy Partnership hosted a hearing at the Hartford Public Library to get residents' input on the qualities the new police chief should have and the issues on which he or she should focus.
Merle Davis, a retired Hartford police officer and city resident, said the chief should have a background in management and operations and live in the city.
"In order to run a police department, you need to know budgets and planning," he said, "and you don't get that unless you're at least a lieutenant."
Regina Dyton, program manager of the Children's Advocacy Center at St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center, said the chief should make crimes against children a priority. Hartford police who investigate such crimes are dealing with much heavier caseloads than police in other cities and towns, she said.
"Those who investigate crimes against children are almost relegated down to being kiddie cops," Dyton said.
Some people stressed the importance of community policing, of ending racial profiling and of improving connections with residents. Others said the chief should have experience living in an inner city, focus on crime prevention and treat all residents equally.
"If community police officers are doing their jobs … they'll be on the streets, not in their cars, not driving by," Charles Oxley, another city resident, said.
Additional suggestions may be made to the recruiting firm by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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