Scenic City seeks: professional, trustworthy police chief who will work with the community to foster new partnerships; applicant must inspire officers by example and spell out clear expectations; transparency is a must; successful experience implementing David Kennedy's crime reduction programs is preferred.
Those are among the qualities that groups made up of officers, prosecutors, pastors, Chattanooga City Council members and Mayor Andy Berke's staff asked for from a research organization -- Police Executive Research Forum -- which sent a recruiting consultant to Chattanooga for a couple of days last week.
The consultant will compile the information into a job description that will be posted in employment listings of national police organizations as well as in city postings.
A description is expected to be drafted by Thursday; Chattanooga's police chief is expected to be chosen by April.
As many as 62 people from the police department met with the consultant last week, among them female officers, captains and lieutenants, sergeants, civilian employees, interim command staff members and union representatives.
"We have someone who is listening, incorporating and trying to build a profile of the next police chief. To me, that strengthens the analysis of who the top-tier candidates will be," Berke said.
Officers' outlooks on the process have ranged from skeptical -- believing the mayor has already selected a police chief -- to hopeful that their input will help guide the mayor's decision.
"I think all of the women that left out of there are hopeful," said one female officer. "We're ready for someone to take the department and move it forward."
Some officers made suggestions. Some wanted to see assistant chief positions eliminated and the command staff restructured. Some want the promotion system to be revamped and based on merit.
Berke said the bar is high and the position will be competitive. A pay range has not been determined. Former Chief Bobby Dodd, who retired in December, made an annual salary of $126,875.
"There are a lot of cities who are cutting their budgets where they have a lot of issues internal to the department," Berke said. "We live in a great city. The administration is committed to public safety as a priority, and we've been trying to expand the number of officers rather than cut."
Berke stressed that the candidate should be familiar with data-driven policing and anti-crime programs similar to the Chattanooga Violence Reduction Initiative.
The initiative is based on a model created by David Kennedy, a professor at John Jay School of Criminal Justice in New York. The program targets violent offenders. Police build cases on selected offenders, who are advised that charges will be held if they put down their guns, and change their lives for the better using resources that are offered to them.
Those who ignore the offer face lengthy stints in federal prison.
The new police chief will be crucial to the success of the program in Chattanooga.
Chief candidates would need an "in-depth familiarity with the principles" of the violence reduction program as well as an "understanding of what it takes to work."
Contact staff writer Beth Burger at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6406. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/abburger.
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