At long last, the city of Frederick is starting its search for a new chief of police, seven months after the last chief left the department.

The pandemic has inhibited the ability of the city to look for a new leader for the police department, as well as the need to fill another high-profile vacancy, the director of the Department of Housing and Human Services.

Mayor Michael O’Connor had to prioritize filling the newly created housing and human services position in part because he did not have an acting director on hand, as he did in the case of the police department.

When former Chief Ed Hargis left in late February, Deputy Chief Patrick Grossman was ready to step in as acting chief, a role he has competently filled since then. But no matter how good an acting chief is, he or she cannot speak with the full authority of the office.

Now that Ramenta Cottrell has been hired for the housing and human services post, and the pandemic restrictions have been eased, the mayor can turn his attention to filling the police post.

O’Connor has announced a timeline and appointed a search committee to assist in the process, and he said he hopes to fill the job by the end of the year.

In an unexpected way, the long delay in the search for a new chief may actually work to the city’s advantage. In the months since the Hargis resignation, the entire nation has begun a discussion of race relations and the role of police.

Now, that discussion can take place here in Frederick in a structured way that should be productive and should enable the city to think deeply about the kind of police department we want to have and the kind of person who should be appointed to lead that new department.

Under the process announced this week, the city will post the job description for 30 days while the search committee reaches out to the community through this month and October to identify the qualities and qualifications it would like to see in a chief.

The city has hired the International Association of Chiefs of Police to consult on the hiring process. In October and November, the committee and the consultant will review applicants and identify candidates, conduct interviews and submit their recommendations to the mayor.

In November and December, O’Connor and the search committee will review the recommendations, conduct a final round of interviews and select finalists.

The finalists will meet with members of the community before O’Connor presents his final candidate to the Board of Aldermen for approval.

The search committee includes Alderman Derek Shackelford, residents, a representative from the police department, and representatives from the city staff as well as the educational, religious, business and other communities.

That committee covers a wide swath of the community and should provide a broad diversity of voices. O’Connor told News-Post reporter Ryan Marshall that he believes the relationship between the community and the police department is good, but he added that there is always room for improvement.

O’Connor should know that, along with the high-profile hiring of the housing and human services director, the hiring of a new leader for the police force is likely to shape his legacy as mayor.

He has the power in these personnel decisions to select people to address two of the most important issues facing our city and our society: easing poverty and the effects of institutional racism, as well as protecting public safety for all.

We wish him well, for he holds the hopes of the city.

(26) comments

Lemmy

It was so nice walking through downtown Frederick over the weeknd. Along the canal, we got to see homeless yelling and screaming at each other, taking off their shirts and challenging each other to fight while spewing a tapestry of profanity as families and diners looked on. Up on Market Street, pan handlers line the sidewalk. In the alley just before Cacique, a young man was urinating. Then we get uninformed protestors yelling and screaming as people were trying to enjoy their food. This mayor and council are weak and are standing by as Frederick declines.

bosco

Really makes me want to go downtown. [thumbdown][ninja]

KellyAlzan

all that is going to blend in nicely with the hotel conference center! giddy up

corgikid

They will hire a black women. You heard it here first.

Reader1954

Kelly when we don't think Jenkins is doing the job we will vote him out. you vote for who you want I will vote for who I want

KellyAlzan

GASP!

Comment deleted.
gabrielshorn2013

Wow Pb, and despite all that "lack of qualification" (in your "humble" opinion) that you continually regurgitate in this forum, the Frederick County Sheriff's Office is doing a great job. What's your qualification to do what you do?

Comment deleted.
KellyAlzan

Rank not tank. That was autocorrect.

And dept not sept

KellyAlzan

All “acting” personnel in law enforcement know that their position is only temporary.

However, it has to be upsetting and distracting knowing that all your hard work, efforts, qualifications, and passion are being overlooked and passed by.

-What are the qualifications?

-Does the acting Chief have those qualifications?

-Is the acting Chief performing well? Is he exceeding expectations?

Ok, then why not make him permanent Chief?

TomWheatley

Some or all of this is a CYA. If another candidate comes along and works out, the Mayor takes the credit at the next election cycle. If the candidate does not work out, the Mayor blames the search committee at the next election cycle.

KellyAlzan

[thumbup]

LeonardKeepers

the deputy chief of police has been doing the job for seven months make him permanent chief of police.why does the mayor think he has to go outside the city to hire a new chief of police using the pandemic as a deterrent is nothing more than excuse or crutch in the search for a new chief of police.

MD1756

Why are there educational and religious representatives on the committee? What input are they going to provide for a position that is responsible to see that public secular laws are upheld?

DickD

There are quite a few local people with great police backgrounds, including Karl Bickle and Grubbs. .Maybe they don't want the job b both ran for the office of Sheriff previously.

TomWheatley

Please detail exactly how the pandemic delayed this search. One can't write a job description, send out emails, talk over a video link up? Smells like the stuff in the animal barns at the Fair to me.

Rockfish

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup] Agreed!

KellyAlzan

Agreed. Not diggin people using the pandemic as a crutch

Reader1954

bunch of money wasted to find a "politically correct" applicant instead of the best person for the job

sue1955

My thoughts exactly, Reader.

francesca_easa

Officer Grossman is already doing a great job. Give him the job and save the City money instead of wasting it on a search firm.

BigAl

Captain Grossman is a competent man with Frederick in his heart. How much are we paying the amalgamated has been cops to pick one of their own retirees? Mayor needs some courage, no?

Dwasserba

"...the hiring of a new leader for the police force is likely to shape his legacy as mayor." No pressure though.

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