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City Council Considers Hiring Committee for Police Chief

September 28, 2017
by Anna Veltri , Emmetsburg News

The Emmetsburg City Council met on Monday, Sept. 25 for a regularly scheduled meeting. As Mayor Myrna Heddinger moved to the Report of Officers, City Administrator, John Bird, brought Police Chief Eric Hanson's retirement to the Council's attention.

"We probably need to start moving towards the succession of Eric's successor and I'm just wondering how you wish to move through that process. Selection committee or interview committee, do you want to use the Public Safety Committee?" Bird asked.

"It makes sense to use the Public Safety Committee," Councilman Mike Hermansen agreed.

"Also, if you don't mind, I would like to draft a formal request to send over to Eric's office notifying all of the officers that we are going to be accepting formal applications," Bird added. "You [Chief Hanson] would like to have that person on Thanksgiving-ish?"

"Yeah, I would say somewhere within that second to third week of the middle part of November," Chief Hanson responded.

"When, Eric, when is your retirement date?" Hermansen questioned.

"January 19 [2018]," Hanson answered.

"His successor will be on for the majority of the budget, if not the entire, preparation," Bird explained. "By what time do you think it would be wise that we have those [applications]?"

"It's got to be pretty quick," City Councilman Brian Campbell stated.

"Yeah, in the next couple of weeks," Councilman Bill Burdick agreed.

"In this case, I don't think we need to worry about this person giving his employer a lot of notice. Give him until the ninth or sixth of October. We're going to want to get those interviews done before the end of the month," Bird commented.

"Depending on his letter of notification to the department, I mean, looks like even October 6- you have this week plus all of next week," Hanson agreed.

"I assume they're already somewhat prepared," Bird said.

"Yeah [] what we talked about was the officers interested to submit a letter of intention personally from them indicating what their desire is and whatever else they want to say about themselves to indicate that intention to want to be part of the process," Hanson explained.

A final date for applicants to submit their letter of intent and resume was set for October 6.

"As far as my position if I was to be an active member of the interview, and I had indicated to John quite a long time ago, that I didn't anticipate myself to be a part of that," Chief Hanson commented. "Now if the City goes to look outside and there were outside people to be interviewed, then absolutely. Otherwise, it's my feeling of interviewing three of your best friends as closely as we work day-to-day [] If I am requested to be an active part of that, I will agree to be a part of it. I just wanted to express that part of working so closely with the men as I do."

"I think his presence will be good," Bird stated.

"I'm sure your men respect you enough to understand the decision that you came to," Burdick affirmed.

"I know we're under a time constraint- any other option you have beside yourself as an interview panel. The panel could be put together of some other law enforcement heads: Chief of Police of Spencer[], the Sheriff of Clay County [], the Chief of Police in Estherville," Chief Hanson suggested. "A lot of executives I work with on our Lakes Co-op, if you're interested in any kind of input they have- maybe that's another option as a secondary interview besides the interview with Public Safety."

This is a practice that the Emmetsburg Police Department has used in the past while selecting a person for the position of Sargent.

"Maybe if somebody from outside, that's not familiar with the candidates, would be a little more comfortable asking some of the tougher questions. They would bring a different perspective to the interview," Campbell recommended.

"I'm all in favor of having some outside people," Councilman Todd Bell agreed.

"Yeah, I am too. I think it's a good idea," Bird stated.

"I think we can leave it to the Public Safety Committee to determine that," Hermansen suggested.

The Public Safety Committee will take into account who should be a part of the Police Chief hiring process at a future meeting.



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