The job description was posted Tuesday, as a national search for West Hartford’s new police chief begins.
By Ronni Newton
The Town of West Hartford is embarking on a nationwide search for a new police chief, with the goal of hiring an experienced and progressive leader to lead the 154-person department.
“I’m certainly looking for – and as an organization we’re looking for – someone who is a progressive leader, who is familiar with best practices in law enforcement, and who will take pride in the town’s diversity,” Town Manager Matt Hart said Tuesday.
Tracey Gove retired as West Hartford’s police chief in late November after six years in the position, and 22 years with the department.
The new chief will be the ninth in the department’s nearly 100-year history.
There are many challenges in the current budget environment, Hart said, and it will be important for the new chief to ensure that “morale remains high and the department is able to attract the best talent for years to come.” A commitment to diversity is also important.
Unionized members of the department have been working without a contract since 2013, with agreement on a retirement plan as a major hurdle, but Hart said he hopes to have a contract finalized before the new chief begins. “We’re making progress,” he said Tuesday.
Internal as well as external candidates are being encouraged to apply, and Hart said that some internal candidates have already expressed an interest. He said that Assistant Chief Dan Coppinger, who has been acting chief since Gove’s departure, is eligible to apply for the position.
Hart said he hopes to have six to 10 candidates reach the interview stage.
In addition to Hart, the selection committee includes Fire Chief Gary Allyn, Executive Director of Human Resources Rick Ledwith, Assistant Superintendent of West Hartford Public Schools Andy Morrow, Director of Social and Leisure Services Helen Rubino-Turco, and three representatives from the police department.
“I’m also going to establish a panel of three police chiefs or executives from outside agencies who can help us interview the candidates,” Hart said. He said that he thinks it’s important to get an “inside and outside” perspective for an upper level management position like police chief.
According to West Hartford Public Relations Specialist Renée McCue, this is the first time since the department was formed in 1920 that a national search has been conducted.
The police chief job has now been posted on the town’s website, as has an electronic brochure describing the position, the department, and the town demographics. Applications must be submitted by Feb. 16, 2018.
The salary range is $130,000-$150,000. The police chief manages a budget of approximately $14.8 million, and reports to the town manager as a member of the senior leadership team.
The role of West Hartford’s police chief, according to the published job description is to “direct, plan and manage all functions and operations of the police department in the enforcement of laws and ordinances, the prevention of crime, and protection of life and property. Work involves organizing and directing the activities of the police department’s major divisions of patrol, detective, juvenile, special investigations, traffic control and accident investigation, community relations, training, management services, and related services. Duties include policy development, departmental planning, and direction and administration of departmental activities.”
The chief also collaborates with other town departments as well as organizations throughout town.
According to an announcement about the job posting from the town, “the ideal candidate will have professional work experience in municipalities with similar demographics and complexity. The new chief will have strong relationship building skills to work with all members of the police organization and community.”
A bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, law enforcement, public administration, or a related field is required, along with 10 years of “progressively responsible experience in police work, including service at the division command level.”
Hart is hoping to have the position filled by late spring or early summer. An internal candidate would likely be able to start sooner because there would not be the same type of notice required to leave a current job, he said.
“West Hartford is a wonderful community,” Hart said. “We’ll get a good pool of folks applying.”
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