“The fact that there has been an interim chief for some years will have some impact. If I thought this (the search) was window dressing (with the acting chief being slated for the job) I’d walk away from the job, and I have in the past," Unsworth said.
Badge Quest of Plymouth, MA has been hired by Cohasset Town Manager Chris Senior to assist him in finding the town’s next permanent police chief. Badge Quest is a police and fire recruitment and promotion assessment center.
Senior told his board that the process of finding a permanent chief is underway, saying he was impressed with Badge Quest’s extensive experience in the field.
“This will be my last police chief search,” Unsworth told selectmen, saying he was officially retiring from the business at the age of 70. See Unsworth’s credentials at bottom of this article.*
Unsworth said he recently sold his company to Atty. Robert J. Pomeroy, who served as police chief in Plymouth from 1977 to 2008. Pomerol is also president of Pomeroy Resources, Inc. (2008 to present). This company provides litigation and investigative support to law firms, municipalities and businesses. Pomeroy will be one of the 10-12 assessors Unsworth will use in identifying the new chief. He told selectmen his assessors had “extraordinary” and “superb” backgrounds in police work and had been trained by him.
It is expected that the Town will receive approximately 70 candidates for the Cohasset position, which will be advertised nation wide, with a focus on New England.
Unsworth said he has been involved in over 45 police chief searches and that Badge Quest had successfully found chiefs for the towns of Weston, Rockport, Dover, Mashpee, Sterling, Pembroke, and Duxbury. He is aware of only one chief leaving a position early because of family problems, and he did a new search for that town at no charge.
Unsworth will work with Senior to put together a process. He will also meet with the acting chief to review crime stats, etc. A citizen’s survey and a police department questionnaire will be done in order that all may voice their opinions about the needs and strengths and weaknesses of the department. All responses will be anonymous.
Assessors will read the resumes received and whittle down the number of candidates to 15. Unsworth will then send those candidates 5-6 questions regarding their three greatest accomplishments, budget experience, strengths and weaknesses.They will also ask for college transcripts. “Twenty percent of them won’t respond. We will lose three candidates and be down to 12,” Unsworth said.
“Now we have more information, and we further reduce the candidates to 4-6 candidates. Next we reach out to references, and then we have some very frank discussions with the remaining candidates regarding salary expectations and we evaluate their commitment. The Town Manager is involved with this process from start to finish,” Unsworth said.
At the assessment center candidates will be asked to respond to challenges the police chief in Cohasset might encounter. Assessors may not interview anyone they have any knowledge of. All candidates wear numbers and they are scored by numbers. “As a further blind, candidates will be asked to complete both an in-house exercise and a home exercise,” Unsworth said, saying he would be the only person who knew the identify of the candidates.
At end of the process Unsworth will discuss the final group of candidate with Senior, who will select final candidates for physical and psychological evaluations. At that point Badge Quest will use a company to speak to the candidates’ neighbors and do background investigations.
Selectman Steve Gaumer asked Unsworth to weight the factors Badge Quest assessors would find important. Unsworth said the three main qualities would be leadership, communication and integrity. “If one of those is lacking you’re (the candidate) not going to succeed.”
Selectman Kevin McCarthy wanted to know if Unsworth would personally talk with citizens and get their input. Unsworth said he found that not to be very effective. Senior added that he had pretty good view of where the townspeople were on the matter. “I think a follow up survey will answer most of that.”
“But what if someone wanted to talk with Stephen (Unsworth)?” McCarthy implored.
“This is Chris’ hire, Select Chair Diane Kennedy,” responded. “One of the reasons in bringing in Badge Quest was to give it some objectivity. Individuals who want to have a conversation have non-global issues.”
Jack Keniley, Chair of Capital Budget committee, told Unsworth that the town had a unique situation in that the acting chief had significant support among citizens in town. “How does that get evaluated?”
“That is a decision for Mr Senior. We’re looking at everything (about the candidates). My assessors will know nothing about his background. From my perspective, your opinion doesn’t factor into it at this stage of the process. It’s not an election,” Unsworth said.
“It is a political decision,” Keniley countered.
“It’s not my political decision,” Unsworth said.
Selectman Karen Quigley asked Unsworth how the factor of the acting chief, who is expected to apply for the job, would effect the search regarding the number of good candidates showing up.
“The fact that there has been an interim chief for some years will have some impact. If I thought this (the search) was window dressing (with the acting chief being slated for the job) I’d walk away from the job, and I have in the past. I do anticipate some candidates will read their own tea leaves,” Unsworth said, ending the discussion.
*Unsworth founded the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Coalition (MASS-PAC), the first state accreditation organization in the nation.
During his tenure as Chief of Police, the Waltham Police Department became the first department in the Commonwealth to be accredited by the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Commission and the 163rd police department in the nation to be accredited by The Commission to Accredit Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA).
Chief Unsworth served as the 2nd Vice President of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association. He was chairman of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Accreditation Committee and was a member of the Training and Education Committee and the Civil Service Committee. As chairman of the Accreditation Committee, he successfully participated in writing a federal grant application to establish the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Program and was subsequently appointed as the first chairman of the Massachusetts Accreditation Commission by the Secretary of Public Safety.
Chief Unsworth has been a Massachusetts Training Council certified police academy instructor for subjects including patrol procedures, observation skills, the environment of policing, ethics and officer survival skills. He has also served as a member of the Massachusetts Criminal Justice Training Council Curriculum Advisory Board.
He has conducted presentations on subjects including accreditation, civil liability, performance evaluations and police management for the Massachusetts Criminal Justice Training Council, the Regional Community Policing Institute, Salem State College, the Civil Liability Institute of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Municipal Association, the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, the New Hampshire Standards and Training Council and numerous other organizations.
Prior to becoming a police officer, Chief Unsworth served three years in the United States Army as a Military Police Officer including a tour in Vietnam and the Armed Services Detachment – Boston.