The search for a new Laurinburg police chief has entered a third phase that should result in a hire before May 13, according to the city’s human resources director.
While it may seem as though the hiring process is dragging on, a brisk pace has actually been set for the hire, according to Human Resources Director Amy Martin.
“If you look at how long it has taken historically to fill the police chief position, it has taken much longer than this one is expected to,” Martin said.
“Hopefully we will have someone hired by May 13,” she said.
Martin noted that the process resulting in the hire of now-retired Police Chief John Evans took seven months to complete back in 2007.
“Police chief hires can take quite some time overall,” said Martin.
With the telephone interview and pre-employment “Hogan Assessment” having already been completed by Martin, the process will now continue with what Martin called “the assessment center.”
This step will involve the formation of three-to-five person panels made up of one more of each of the following members: An official from an outside law enforcement agency in the region; A city council member; A department head from the city of Laurinburg.
Asked why Laurinburg Police Department staff were not on the panels, Martin said that including them would create an awkward situation once the hire is made.
“They will have been involved with hiring their superior officer,” Martin said.
Laurinburg Mayor Tommy Parker said that bringing in outside law enforcement personnel also offers a valuable perspective to the proceeding “and because we are considering internal applicants, we can avoid having someone involved in the hiring process who knows the candidate.”
One of the panels will oversee a written examination of the applicants – all of whom will gather for that portion of the process.
Similar panels will oversee various other evaluations, including one that Martin said involves the applicants prioritizing simulated daily activities and conducting practical exercises.
“These kinds of hires are typically handled in this fashion,” Martin said.
Martin also said that the process would likely be further along than it is now had the city council not decided to “hold it for a while so that they could focus on the city manager post.
“The police chief position was not publicly posted until February 13,” Martin said.
Evans officially retired in early January.
Parker said that a police chief hire will likely be announced before a permanent city manager is hired. The hiring of a police chief is typically the responsibility of the city manager.
“The interim city manager (Harold Haywood) can perform that function. We weren’t going to delay hiring a police chief until we hired a manager,” Parker said.
An added positive outcome of proceeding with the hire prior to bringing a new city manager on board will be that the new city manager will not have finding a police chief added to the list of his or her day one tasks.
“Whoever comes in will have to hit the ground running, and it will be good if they are able to come in and concentrate on the business of running the city without (concerning themselves with filling a senior police department vacancy),” Parker said.
No timetable has been set for the hire of a city manager.