The special meeting of the Public Safety Commission in conjunction with a town hall hearing was designed to focus on the qualities a new police chief should possess when hired here. Photos by Steve Whitmore

The South Pasadena Public Safety Commission held a special meeting this week in conjunction with a town hall hearing to gather input about the qualities needed to be an effective police chief here and integrity, judgement, leadership and familiarity with the community topped the list.

The city is in the market for a new police chief since former Chief Art Miller resigned recently to take a similar position in Arizona.

City officials have contracted with Teri Black & Company, an 18-years’ professional recruiter, to spearhead the search and the process. This past Tuesday was the second of two public meetings to gather public input as to the qualities So Pas residents want in their top law enforcement officer.

Tuesday’s meeting was primarily focused on the seven-member Public Safety Commission, which offered up numerous qualities the city’s new police chief should possess, along with input from community members. The first meeting for the public to address qualities for the new chief was Saturday, Nov. 10, where between 15 and 20 people met to discuss the search. That meeting was held at the South Pasadena Public Library.

Black wrote down the various qualities required for a successful candidate on several sheets of paper that were on a board in front of the audience. The input is going to help Black fashion the recruitment brochure that applicants will follow when applying.

Moreover, the input from the public and the commissioners is vital. So Pas City Manager Stephanie De Wolfe explained the process this way.

“Having our own police and fire departments, there are some defining factors of a small city like South Pasadena, and the police chief is a highly visible position that requires a lot of community engagement,” DeWolfe said at the beginning of the special/town hall meeting. “It’s important as we move forward in making this decision that we get as much feedback and input from the community as we can and that includes commissioners as well as the general public.”

Black asked the assemblage to name important qualities the new police chief should possess.

Teri Black of Teri Black & Company took down all the qualities members of the South Pasadena Public Safety Commission and members of the public want to see in the city’s next police chief. The Public Safety Commission held a special meeting Tuesday night that also served as a town hall meeting seeking input for the next chief. Photo by Steve Whitmore

“We are really interested in getting your feedback on the ideal candidate,” Black said to the gathering. “Also, we are going to talk about priorities, areas of interest or topics you’d like the new chief to focus on early in his or her tenure. With this information, it helps us create the advertising and marketing materials and really informs our discussions that we are going to have with potential candidates. Many of our best candidates aren’t looking for a job so we are calling them, emailing them, and they are very curious individuals that typically have a lot of questions, and with all this feedback we’re able to answer those questions.”

And with that Black begin to write down qualities the commissioners and the public sought in the city’s new chief.

Those qualities included integrity, judgement, leadership, respect for So Pas residents, represents the city well, writes well, willing to serve longer than three to five years, commitment to public service, impeccable credentials, trust, and not a change agent, among numerous other traits that filled up several sheets of paper.

Black filled up seven sheets with the chief’s desired qualities as well as what makes South Pasadena special. What makes the city special included an engaged, friendly community, schools, long-term residents, volunteerism, diverse and integrated residents, full service and the city is overwhelmingly supportive.

Black said the pool of candidates is shrinking because the best ones are not looking for a job. She said she would be engaged in aggressive outreach for some of the possible candidates.

Black said the application process will begin next week and carry over into next year with a new chief in place sometime in February 2019.

There also is an online survey that residents can take to have their input heard. The survey, www.surveymonkey.com/r/YQFWNM2, is available now online.

Steve Whitmore
Author

Steve Whitmore is the editor for the South Pasadena Review. Steve has spent more than four decades as an award-winning print and broadcast journalist with a 16-year stint as the senior media advisor for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Steve comes to us from the Keene Sentinel in Keene, New Hampshire, where he covered politics and was a columnist.

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