BY PAUL LEIGHTON
---- — The last time the city was looking for a new police chief, Mayor Bill Scanlon handled the search mostly by himself and interviewed only internal candidates.
This time, Scanlon said, the city will hire an outside consultant to help conduct a “far-ranging” search to replace retiring police Chief Mark Ray.
“We want to get the very best chief we can get,” Scanlon said. “We might have him right here; we might not.”
Scanlon announced earlier this month that Ray, who has been the police chief since 2007, plans to retire on Sept. 13. Capt. Christopher Negrotti will serve as interim chief until a new chief is appointed.
Negrotti confirmed yesterday that he will be a candidate for the chief’s job. The 51-year-old Beverly native has served as the department’s executive officer for the last 31/2 years, a position he said is similar to being the deputy chief.
“It’s a position Chief Ray created so he could have a clear second-in-command,” Negrotti said. “Chief Ray has been preparing me for a long time. I’m certainly ready and capable.”
Negrotti joined the department 28 years ago, at the same time as Ray. Negrotti has a bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University and a master’s degree from Western New England University, both in criminal justice.
Scanlon described Negrotti as a “strong candidate.”
“He will be the acting chief, and he’ll have a chance to become the permanent chief,” Scanlon said.
Scanlon said the search process is in the early stages, but the city intends to use an outside consultant to help prepare a list of “a half-dozen interesting candidates.”
Those candidates will then go through an assessment process used by many communities choosing a police chief. The process includes putting the candidates through simulations of some of the duties and responsibilities that face police chiefs to assess how they perform.
The mayor has the authority to appoint the police chief. The appointment must be confirmed by the City Council.
Scanlon, who is not running for re-election, said he plans to pick the new chief before he leaves office at the end of the year.
“That’s my expectation,” he said.
Ray, 54, was a finalist for police chief’s job in Portland, Maine, and in Lone Tree, Colo., in the past two years. He said he is retiring to spend more time with his family.
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or firstname.lastname@example.org.