Saline expected to pick interim police chief on Dec. 19
The Saline City Council agreed to short-term and long-term strategies for replacing Saline Police Chief Paul Bunten Monday night, as the chief's retirement date quickly approaches.
An interim chief is expected to be appointed by the City Council in two weeks, while the city takes its time hiring a new chief.
City Manager Todd Campbell said he’s already interviewed three unnamed interim chief candidates by phone and he and Mayor Gretchen Driskell will conduct a second round of interviews, then recommend a finalist to the City Council at its Dec. 19 meeting.
He said the city needed “someone to keep a hand on the rudder," until a permanent chief is chosen and Campbell's preference is that the interim chief not apply for the open position.
“My hope is that the interim police chief would begin work Jan. 3 and work with Chief Bunten for the chief’s last two weeks on the job to make the transition as smooth as possible,” Campbell’s memo to the City Council states.
Bunten’s last day on the job is now expected to be Jan. 13.
Campbell recommended that the City Council use of a search firm to assist them in finding a new chief, and once one is chosen, he recommended scheduling a city hall meeting to ask citizens what traits they wanted to see in the new chief.
“I believe the police chief is just as important as the city manager,” Campbell said, adding that although the City Council makes the choice and the chief reports to the city manager, it’s important to have input from residents, department heads, and the police department in determining who will fill this position.
Campbell said he’s already had inquiries about the position and expects “We’ll get a lot of applicants.”
Once a search firm is chosen, he recommended the consultants conduct meetings with department heads and the police department in drafting a profile for the new chief.
Because the police chief is such a “specialized position,” he said it was important that an executive search team including up to three City Council members, the city manager and two law enforcement experts, perhaps an area police chief and a law enforcement expert, narrow the number of applicants to 8-12 who would be interviewed “as part of an oral board.”
The executive committee would then recommend the top two or three candidates to the full City Council interviews.
Campbell also stressed that thorough background checks would be performed on both the interim chief and the new chief.
“It will take 5-6 months to go through the process,” he said.
Lisa Allmendinger is a regional reporter for AnnArbor.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more Saline stories, visit our Saline page.