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Posted on Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 6:29 a.m.

Saline City Council selects police chief search firm

By Lisa Allmendinger

Terry McGinn, a senior consultant for Career Directions, on Monday night gave the City Council an overview of the steps he’ll take as he assists Saline in its search for a new police chief.

Police Chief Paul Bunten will retire this month and Interim Chief Mike Lindman is transitioning into his temporary position. Lindman will take over the day-to-day operations of the department in the next two weeks and will continue the job during the search.

Finding a new chief is a process that McGinn expects will take about 3-4 months from start to finish, and includes meetings with the community, city staff and police personnel to develop a profile of what the city wants to see in its new chief.


Terry McGinn, senior consultant from Career Directions

Lisa Allmendinger |

He said following the meetings, he would pick 6-8 “key competencies and this will become the yardstick.”

Career Directions, a small “boutique firm” from Ann Arbor, was chosen because it has an extensive resume of law enforcement searches, said City Manager Todd Campbell.

“We have someone with a niche of recruiting law enforcement personnel,” he said, and the firm provided City Council with an extensive proposal.

The position will be advertised on several Internet sites, such as the Michigan Municipal League and Michigan Chiefs of Police Websites, and he said he expects “three- to six-dozen viable candidates,” to apply. He expects the posting to stay up for about 30 days.

McGinn said he’d be looking for someone from a comparable community to Saline, who is currently the “number one or number two,” in charge while grading the applications. He’ll then speak to the candidates on the phone, meeting with a city-appointed search committee after each step.


Mike Lindman, interim Saline police chief, at a work session to discuss the search for a new permanent police chief.

Lisa Allmendinger | Ann

“The process I use is tailored to each community,” McGinn said of his 15 years in the business. “I don’t come in with a cookie-cutter approach.”

“Career Directions proposes to create a scaled and weighted competency profile or templates for the police chief position based on the job posting, job description, as well as input from the city manager, and any other individuals or groups designated by the search committee,” according to the proposal.

The applications will be narrowed down to about 6-8 candidates for “oral boards” by a city appointed search committee that consists of three City Council members, the city manager, several law enforcement and city staff members.

It’s expected that about two or three candidates then will be interviewed by the entire City Council.

“It’s not easy to find a good police chief for a city,” McGinn said, adding that the key is to “hire a police chief that’s a good fit.”

Saline will pay the consultant $6,000 for the search and once a final candidate has been chosen, it will cost about another $1,000 for a background check.

The company was unanimously chosen by the City Council.

Lisa Allmendinger is a regional reporter for She can be reached at For more Saline stories, visit our Saline page.



Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 12:26 a.m.

Chief Bunten's record has been exemplary. He will be very difficult to replace, and I wish him well in whatever endeavor retirement brings him. Saline has some wonderful officer, but I don't think any have the experience to take over that job. It is too bad that city Council didn't listen to chief Bunten and allow him to train someone. I think Council also made a bad decision in hiring McGinn. McGinn's track record is not very good. After all he brought Ann Arbor the chief who ordered his officer to run lights and siren so he could make his airplane.


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 5:01 p.m.

Unbelievable that Saline has to hire someone to do their work. Waste of money. Have seen this before and the typical result is a very bad selection by a bunch of Ph.ds. If you can't do it yourself step down and put someone in who can.


Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 7:19 p.m.

I was a public service employee too. Over the decades, it was, and continues to be, apparent that the candidates selected are far worse in quality than those that were selected from within the organization itself. Or from local sources. It seemed that these organizations sometimes create the need to use their services. Here the fee is not very high. But in reviewing the personnel I did not notice anyone with law enforcement experience. And what is the purpose of this: "...includes meetings with the community, city staff and police personnel to develop a profile of what the city wants to see in its new chief." I would hope the Saline administration has an idea of this already. Public employees not qualified to make decisions should not be public employees. I am not 100% against hiring a consultant. I recognize some issues might be so complex some outside assistance may be necessary. I have simply seen more failures than successes, or results that could have been made without outside help.


Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 1:19 a.m.

I think it's interesting how some complain that public employees are not qualified to make decisions and need to hire consultants, and others complain when they hire an expert to make an educated decision with taxpayer money. Being a former public service employee, I can tell you I personally was frustrated in how many expected us to use a consultant. I'd rather use a consultant when I am not knowledgeable or experienced, and be trusted when I am. In this case, it's proper to have a search firm - as often chiefs come from other cities - and the City is not equipped with an H.R. department to do that kind of searching (read, the city does not misuse taxpayer money on a position that is needed only every so often). Explain how this is not different form a recruiting firm - which many private companies use - does yours?.

Ron Granger

Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 3:32 p.m.

$6000 is very reasonable, even cheap. Internal candidates are welcome to apply. It is about finding the best fit, not giving preference. In light of recent events, I wonder what sort of psyche screening the hiring process will include? A background check doesn't really cover that.

roll tide

Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 11:58 a.m.

Paul Bunten has done an excellent job in Saline hopefully he  will think about running for sheriff!