By Jim Person
Belton Police Chief
I would like to offer an explanation in regard to the Transitional Police Chief position, and hiring process I included in my FY’21 budget request. I recognize there is some consternation over this request as a similar process wasn’t conducted for the Fire Chief, but this is my recommendation.
First, I believe that there needs to be some transitional period to allow for a smooth change of command and administration. My suggestion is to have the next chief identified, and announced during Nov-Dec. ’20, with a start in Jan., ’21. This would allow the new chief to be on staff during the budget process, as well as time to select his command staff and administrative staff prior to my planned April retirement.
I would not want to leave the chief cold, without the institutional knowledge and history of not just myself, but other staff that have also expressed their intent to retire near the same time. That would mean a possible overlap of the last quarter of the year, not a full year’s salary. There is no way the appointment will be for a 12 month overlap. That was never my intention.
Second, I also requested funds to hire a consulting firm to assist the city in the hiring process. During the discussions leading up to the election in regard to the Charter change establishing an appointed police chief, the comment I heard often was that there needed to be a broad nation-wide search for the best qualified candidate. The feeling was that it had been detrimental to the city to be restricted to candidates from the city limits. I am familiar with this process, having served on several selection boards for cities including Raymore, Grandview, Springfield, and Jefferson City. I also serve as the Chair of the State 9-1-1 Board, and we recently completed the process of using a firm to assist in a search for the new State Executive of the 9-1-1 Board.
Further, I am aware that Raytown just used a firm to help select their first ever appointed police chief. The $50K I requested in the budget is for the hiring of a consulting firm, expenses associated with the selection process, including advertising, and potential candidate travel expense for interviews, and moving expense.
This will be an extended process and time-line. If included in the budget starting April 1, a Request for Proposal will be prepared, and approved by city staff. Then it will have to be advertised, a firm identified, and ultimately taken to the City Council for approval. This could take 30 to 60 days. Then the firm will work with the city administration to identify candidate qualifications and selection criteria, another potential 30 days. The position will be advertised in appropriate venues, and fliers will be mailed to professional organizations, and individuals. The posting will remain advertised and open for 30-60 days.
Then the firm will narrow down the field for initial interviews. Those will then be reduced to finalists for interviews, vetting, and selection. There will be some negotiations, and finally, the successful candidate will be confirmed by the City Council. Then, depending on the new chief’s current employment status , there will have to be appropriate notice given to the current employer.
This entire process could take another 60-90 days. If fast tracked the process may be quicker, or if difficulty is encountered identifying an acceptable candidate, it may pushing it to be completed earlier than the time allotted. It would not be responsible to wait until the second or third quarter of the year to begin the process and expect to be completed in adequate time.