Building trust with your police chief is critical as a city manager. This is the first of a two-part blog post focused on hiring.
Thomas Wieczorek, principal with the Center for Public Safety Management, said building trust begins during hiring. He said, “It is critical to undertake a department and community-focused approach to hiring the police chief.”
Wieczorek said in today’s climate, there are a few positions in local government that can become lightning rods for public engagement quite like police chief.
“City managers and police chiefs must recognize joint responsibility to enforce the laws and engage the community productively in partnership against criminal elements and antisocial behaviors.” he said.
A city manager’s role in local government is to build a team to meet the needs and desires of elected officials and citizens of the community. Wieczorek posed questions for city managers to ask themselves to help select the right police chief:
Does the Police Chief Candidate:
- Work well with local officials?
- Have the capacity and capabilities to meet the demands and expectations of the citizens, police officers, police associations, and elected officials?
- If no, what can be done to support a change for that capability or capacity?
- Have a management style that fits the unique situation?
- Perform well in an evaluation-style exercise to determine whether they can meet specific demands?
Actions Before Making a Hire
The hiring process isn’t just about the candidate. There is some self-assessment needed by city managers and police departments to learn what kind of leader would be the best fit. Some actions to consider before making a hire:
- Conduct a comprehensive analysis of your police department’s operations. Is there an opportunity to use non-sworn services to meet calls for service (CFS)?
- Ask citizens of your community how they feel about diverting calls for service. What CFS would they feel more comfortable dealing with non-sworn/non-uniform personnel or services?
- Ask elected officials what they want in the police department.
- Evaluate how your police department aligns with best practices on state, country, and international levels.
- Review accreditation.
- Ask your police officers what they view as the role and ideal characteristics of the police chief.
- Make an honest assessment of organization culture.
There is no magic formula to guarantee a perfect hire, but asking the right questions of the candidates will put city managers in a better position to make the best hire and find a police chief with whom they can build mutual trust.
Even with the right police chief in place, the task of building trust has only begun. Part two will cover common conflicts and how to avoid them.