Committee narrows down candidates for Police Chief

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By Christine Bolaños

The City of Liberty Hill is one step closer to having a new chief of police after a committee consisting of three council members and one staff member narrowed down a list of potential candidates from 30 to nine, and ultimately, to four candidates and, if needed, one alternate.

Those four candidates will be emailed questions in advance of a conference call with Mayor Connie Fuller and City Administrator Greg Boatright.

“Once that’s done we’ll put it on the agenda to make a recommendation back to Council,” Boatright told The Independent following the about two-and-a-half-hour meeting Wednesday. “Then, at council, ask questions of the committee members and the person.”

The committee includes Fuller as well as Council members Ron Rhea and Wendell McLeod.

Former police chief Randy Williams and interim police chief Jeff Ringstaff attended the special council meeting Wednesday morning as observers.

“If we’re making a recommendation to council then my feeling would be that our council would want that person here to actually be able to meet, ask questions of, that kind of thing,” Boatright said.

He said he believes the committee is charged with narrowing the applicants to the one candidate who will come before the City Council at a later meeting. The conference call is scheduled the morning of Wednesday, May 11.

“If the Council feels differently then we’ll go back to the no. 2 candidate,” Boatright said.

During the conference call, which is estimated to last about 30 minutes per candidate, the individuals will be asked to describe their general management style for city manager/police chief relations, city council relations, employee relations and community relations. They will be asked to describe three specific accomplishments within their local government law enforcement center that they consider most significant. Candidates will also need to address their approach to promoting the concept of Community Oriented Policing throughout all sections of a police department.

Individuals will also be asked to identify problem areas and how they would tackle those issues during the first six months on the job. They will need to discuss their philosophy and techniques for recruitment and retention of law enforcement personnel. Candidates will have to explain techniques they would use to keep the city administrator informed about projects, problems, issues and more, as well as provide samples or examples.

Finally, the candidates will be asked to identify the most sensitive or critical issue or crisis they have faced in their local government career, that affected or had the potential to affect their relationship with the city manager or other chief executive officer. They will be asked to talk about the outcome of that issue, what techniques they used to resolve the issue or crisis and to be specific.

“We’re looking for a working chief, in other words a person that’s going to be out in the community,” Boatright said. “Active with our businesses and our schools and a person that has chief of police experience.”

He wants to help select a candidate who will bring energy to the position and innovation within the department.

“Look at our department and improve it and make it better,” Boatright said. “I think we’re looking for someone who is motivated.”

He said he does not want a candidate who is necessarily looking to retire in the community or who has no desire to move up the professional ladder.

“Motivation to make a better environment, make a better police department,” Boatright said. “I want someone who’s interested in furthering their career.”

Ideally, it is someone who wants to build a reputation in town and is sought after by other communities.

“What can you do better, what do you bring to the table,” are some of the questions the committee will be asking of the candidates.

City staff and elected officials did not release the names of candidates considered Wednesday, some of whom personally requested not to have their names publicized unless they are serious candidates. Boatright did confirm that the top candidates included individuals from Central Texas as well as one from out of state.

Following the meeting, The Independent inquired about the deadline for applications. A city staff member said to her knowledge applications were still being accepted. She could not name a specific deadline for applications. A job posting on the city’s website said the position will be posted until filled.

Fuller is looking forward to finding the right candidate for Liberty Hill.

“I’m excited about this,” she said during the committee’s meeting. “We have some good applications.”

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