So Pas Safety Commission Question Police Chief Search

Interim Police Chief Brian Solinsky discusses search. Photo by Steve Whitmore

At the most recent So Pas Public Safety Commission meeting, a lengthy discussion unfolded regarding the selection of a new police chief, with some commissioners questioning the time it’s taking to start the process.

“I don’t know why we’ve had inaction on a critical assignment in our city government,” Greg Hall, vice-chair of the commission, said during the meeting on Monday, Oct. 15. “I don’t understand. I don’t know why we are waiting. Maybe there’s a good reason.”

Brian Solinsky has been the interim police chief since Art Miller resigned about two months ago. Solinsky made it clear during the meeting that it was awkward for him discussing the police chief search since he was going to apply for the job.

The commission agreed that the discussion was not predicated by Solinsky but by the apparent absence of any movement regarding the search.

Hall, a retired captain from the Los Angeles Police Department,  characterized the lack of a process as a “delay” and was concerned that other important positions within the department were not being filled. There are two captain positions that have not been filled yet because Solinsky said it was better for the new police chief to pick those, since they will constitute the new management team.

“It’s better if the chief picks his own management team,” Solinsky said. Hall acknowledged that there might be a “very good reason” for the delay but wanted to know why and what the process will actually entail. Hall, who spent 35 years in the LAPD, said he believes the police chief in a city like South Pasadena is one of the most “critical assignments” and needs to be filled expeditiously. The process also needs to be thorough and comprehensive so no challenges, legal or otherwise, can develop from the recruitment search.

The commission unanimously opted to take their collective concerns to City Manager Stephanie De Wolfe.

Meanwhile, city officials said there has been no delay in the process of selecting a new police chief and released last Friday a tentative schedule for the search.

DeWolfe has decided to hold public meetings next month to get an idea of what the community wants in a police chief, according to the city spokesman, John Pope. DeWolfe also said a recruiter would be hired and the job posted in November. Applications would be due in December with interviews to follow in January 2019, and a new police chief hired in February 2019, according to Pope.

“The search for a new chief to lead the South Pasadena Police Department is moving forward on schedule,” DeWolfe said in an email to The Review. “We are preparing to launch a thorough, national search shortly to fill this critically important position. It has been less than two months since former Chief Art Miller announced his departure. While the recruitment is underway, I have full confidence in the leadership of Interim Chief Brian Solinsky, who is doing an excellent job of overseeing the department while we search for a new, permanent chief.”

The city is in the process of selecting dates for the community meetings, posting the job and hiring a recruiter.

“We agree that this position is critical to the city,” Pope said. “We take issue with the term ‘delay.’ We don’t think there has been any delay.”