Despite the fact that the City of Northfield’s $85,000 web site has a Chief’s Message indicating that Gary Smith is still our Chief of Police, he’s not anymore. The hiring process for a new chief began with the posting of the job opening on Feb. 7. (There’s another poster/flyer PDF here but there’s no information about a job opening or links to the info on the police department employment page.) The job closes on Feb. 20.
Rather than hiring out-of-town consulting who knows little about our city, the council should appoint a citizens’ panel of knowledgeable people to review and narrow the field of applicants and make a rank-order recommendation to the council.
The people who should be asked to serve on the panel might include former chief of police Ron Pieri; retired police captain Tim Halvorson; retired police sergeants Mark Barlau, Jim Schuenke and Mick Scholl; Northfield city prosecutor Tim Morisette; Rice County Chief Deputy Bob Sletten; and a Northfield criminal defense attorney, such as Adam Dowd, Britt Ackerman or Dave Ludescher.
Evidently the usual process is to hire a consultant to winnow down the applicants to a select few for City Administrator Al Roder to interview. I’ve not seen anything about the hiring process in any of Al’s weekly memos, but I like Hvistendahl’s suggestion. I’d add one additional component: have some members of the police department (officers, staff) involved in the interviews.