Frederick’s search for a new city police chief is down to two, with the finalists scheduled to speak with the public next week.
Jason Lando, a commander with the Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania) Bureau of Police, and Cleveland Spruill, the chief of police in Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, will each be given one hour to introduce themselves and answer submitted questions at an event Tuesday.
The forum comes near the end of a search that began in September and included a search committee of residents that held meetings with members of the community and narrowed 35 applications to a final seven.
Another committee of members from the city’s leadership team then narrowed the group further.
Sometime following the forum, Mayor Michael O’Connor will pick a candidate to present to the Board of Aldermen.
The process was difficult because of the high quality of applicants the city received, O’Connor said Wednesday.
Spruill’s philosophy and thoughts on policing largely fit with the long-term plan for the Frederick Police Department, O’Connor said, while the bureau in Pittsburgh that Lando commands is about the size of Frederick.
“These were highly ranked candidates at every step of the process,” he said.
Lando and Spruill will answer submitted questions from the community on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.
Questions for the forum must be submitted in advance and will be posed to the two finalists by a moderator to maximize each candidate’s time to respond, according to an announcement from the city.
Questions can be submitted at frederickmd.gov/speakup.
The two finalists will also hold a forum with members of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 91.
During interviews, both candidates discussed how ideas of policing have changed in 2020, with protests over police violence and racial discrimination, O’Connor said.
If the city had started its process soon after Chief Ed Hargis retired in February, they would have had different conversations than they did in their eventual interviews, O’Connor said.
Those changes did a lot to shape the conversation at every step of the city’s process, according to the mayor, who thinks both finalists understand how ideas of policing have changed and evolved.