The Oak Bluffs select board hired Public Safety LLC to help the town select its next police chief.
Chief Erik Blake has announced he will retire effective June 30, which leaves the town with just a couple of months before the busy summer season to get a new chief on board.
On Tuesday, March 15, the board held a special meeting with three consulting firms to help them assess police chief candidates. In the end, it came down to two of those consultants — Public Safety LLC and Integrity Testing, but the board in a 4-0 vote went with Public Safety. Select board member Ryan Ruley, an Edgartown Police officer, was not involved in the selection process.
Public Safety said it will charge the town a total of $8,400, with an additional $2,000 charged if the town wants more than five candidates to go through the assessment center.
Integrity’s proposal was very similar in price at $9,600 total, though town administrator Deborah Potter pointed out in both contracts the amount for advertising should be taken out because the town has already advertised, and has 12 candidates for the job.
Badge Quest, which is owned by former Plymouth Police Chief Robert Pomeroy, was ruled out in part because of the price, which was $10,150 plus expenses, and an additional $2,000 charge if there were more than five candidates in the assessment center component.
All three firms said during interviews that they could meet the town’s need to turn around the process quickly.
The town has 12 applicants for chief, some of whom will be put through an assessment center — a process that includes reacting to scenarios, written components, and interviews, among other things. Three finalists will then be selected for final interviews with the select board.
Public Safety LLC is run by Wayne Sampson, a retired chief, and Russell Stevens, who is a police chief in Hamilton. Sampson told the board he would not be available personally until after April 9, but promised that would not stand in the way of doing assessments based on the town’s tight timeline.
“I think that one of the key points that we do is work closely with individual communities to find out what you need, what the culture of your community is, and try to match up the right person for what you’re looking for,” Sampson said. “If you were to select us: What is your vision going forward? Are you looking for a cultural change, or are you looking to stay in the parameters of your community’s culture?” The candidates put forward will match the town’s vision, he said.
Sampson said his firm can narrow down the applicant pool. “We know — I call them the frequent fliers — people that have applied a lot of times and never get hired,” he said. “There are people out there we have already assessed. We have a greater insight on why they weren’t hired in another community.”
Integrity Testing was also in the running. That consultant was involved in the selection process for Edgartown Police Chief Bruce McNamee, which both they and chair Brian Packish pointed out. “He’s obviously a good fit for the community,” Packish said of McNamee.