PEABODY — The city will soon embark on a nationwide search for its next police chief.
Mayor Ted Bettencourt said he’s contracting with Resource Management Associates, an executive search firm out of Illinois, to conduct a screening process over the next three months. Interim Chief Robert St. Pierre has agreed to stay on through July 1 and will assist in the process.
For the first time, the process will not involve Civil Service. Bettencourt was successful last year in securing permission from the City Council and, then, state lawmakers to remove the positions of police and fire chief from Civil Service. Bettencourt argued successfully that the chief’s job is one of the most important in a city and that hiring should be determined by more than the highest score on a promotional exam.
The new process will include an assessment center and interviews for finalists. Bettencourt said there will be no conditions or preference set for internal candidates.
“I’m going to open it up and see who applies,” he said, adding that he expects to see some internal candidates. He said he spoke with the city’s police unions last year during preliminary discussions on removing the job from Civil Service. “I think they appreciated the fact that I approached them.”
Bettencourt said he hopes to have a new chief in place by July 1. St. Pierre, the former Salem police chief, was hired on an interim basis after longtime Peabody Chief Robert Champagne retired last year.
The assessment center will include a battery of role-playing scenarios and other events to test candidates on everything from police work and procedures to judgment calls, leadership skills and temperament. Bettencourt said a chief “needs a wide range of skills,” and some people are better test takers, while others are better in the field.