SALEM — The city's police department is looking to hire two leaders -- one to replace the retiring Chief Mary Butler and another to fill a captain position that opened when Kate Stephens was demoted to sergeant.
As of now, both positions will go through a civil service hiring process, but that could change for the role of police chief.
On Monday, Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll said she wants to review the police chief position being part of civil service. Civil service focuses the hiring process on internal candidates; removing the position from that process would open the door to outside candidates applying for the job.
"In the past, we've tried to remove that designation," Driscoll said. "So we'll have to sort through that going forward. We'll definitely want to at least understand what the potential options might be there. We're in the minority in terms of cities that still have chiefs in civil service."
Butler retires July 31, at which point Capt. Dennis King will take over on an acting basis. Meanwhile, Stephens' old captain post will go to someone with seniority — "I believe there's a lieutenant at the top of that list," Driscoll said — before that post goes through a civil service process.
Driscoll's attempt to remove the police and fire chiefs from civil service in 2014 came as then-police Chief Paul Tucker announced a run for state representative. A home-rule petition to make the change was shot down by the City Council that year. Members of both the police and fire departments vocally opposed the plan.
Tucker, who went on to win his bid for state rep and remains in the position today, declined to weigh in on the civil service's involvement in hiring Butler's replacement. He did so in the name of neutrality, as he's "on the public safety committee, and they're looking at all aspects of police reforms — especially civil service."