Cohasset Selectmen to Hire Consultant for Chief Search

In a nutshell, Cohasset Selectmen voted 5-0 to continue with a search for Police Chief. The board will fold into the search the nine or ten resumes it has already received from the previous, suspended search that the board noted was not publicly advertised.

A consultant will be hired ($6,000-$7,000) who will assist the selectmen in  putting together an assssment center. If candidates have 30 days to respond to a new ad, as seletmen suggested,  a newly constituted board of selectmen (Annual Elections are May 11) will get final dibs on the candidate chosen. Selectmen’s power is only that they can say no to the acting town manager’s final choice. It appears they have now taken over how the search will be conducted, unless the acting town manager decides to challenge his bosses’ 5-0 vote.

Several times during the evening acting town manager Mike Milanoski advised the board that he would make the final choice on who would be selected. “You get the final vote on my appointment,” he told Selectman Fred Koed.

 Discussion and debate leading up to the vote to hire a consultant

 When Select Chair Paul Carlson suggested that “we” could do the advertisement, Koed disagreed, saying he wanted a consultant to write the ad.

Milanoski said the town didn’t have the money for the assessment center and consultant ($15,000 or $16.000) and that the board didn’t have the authority to require the same.  He suggested the board converse with town counsel.

Mary Snow said: “As Joe public, I don’t want anything less than what Fred is asking for.”

Milanoski asked the board: “Do you find the (police) department broken.” He added that anybody in the area who sees the ad is going to know that the town has a strong, internal candidate.

Koed said he would be happy to have an internal search in the police department, “But there’s only one candidate, internally. That’s why I want to go outside. I work for the voters and they want a search.”

Milanoski asked again: “Why are we going outside?”

Koed:  “It’s good public policy. Public jobs should be publicly advertised.”

Selectman Lee Jenkins: “Fred said the whole thing.” He backed up Koed’s request for a 30-day search, including the 9 resumes that had already come.

Milanoski then told the board that he did not want politics to enter the police department.   “They have laws to enforce the law without politics, and they’ve been doing their part for the past 10 years.” Milanoski added that some appointed and elected town officials had had family members arrested and summoned…they broke the law….” At that point Agnes McCann, and Selectwomen Diane Kennedy and Martha Gjesteby all stopped Milanoski in his tracks.

Kennedy said: “This has nothing to do with the search.”

Agnes McCann called Milanoki’s comments “a red herring,” …we want to accomplish confidence going forward

Gjesteby said: “The community is very upset with this board.”

Koed said an independent assessment center was his number one priority and he wanted to have it comprised of police chiefs with no connection to Cohasset.

Milanoski said the assessment center does not have to cost anything. We can get independent chiefs to do it for lunch and dinner.

Koed told Milanoski: “I prefer that others manage that selection instead of you. Nothing personal.”

 Chief Wayne Sampson of the Mass Police Chiefs Association addresses selectmen

 Previous to the discussion and votes on hiring a consultant to create an assessment center and assist with advertising, Chief Sampson, of the Mass Police Chiefs “Association, gave selectmen an overview of how to find a new police chief at last night’s meeting.

Sampson said before a search is entertained, selectmen should decide if they want an internal or an external candidate. “It can be as simple or as complex as you wish.”

He noted that if the board decided to go the internal candidate route, it should have more than one candidate, saying an assessment could not be accomplished on one candidate.

Sampson made these points:

  1. Set up an interview committee comprised of 3 or 4 area police chiefs. They will conduct interviews and make recommendations to the authority.
  2. An assessment center is state of the art today in the police profession. Put the candidates through a series of real life exercises and then the chiefs score them on those exercises.
  3. At minimum, a bachelor’s degree and 10 years experience is a minimum requirement.
  4. Decide what your standards are. It’s important to be able to “move” police officers in a small department. Ask yourselves what are the internal relationships in the police department.
  5. Be careful of a national search. You get a lot of very unqualified people who are leaving positions. It’s critical that you do any extensive background check on anybody coming in. Make sure candidates have appropriate training credentials. Massachusetts has high standards.
  6. Ask yourselves if the qualities you are looking for can be found in your department, now.
  7. A lot of candidates can be “washed out” at the resume level. Send candidates a list of written questions. That will give you an idea of how they approach certain issues. The interview is also important. The consultant would be able to point that out.
  8. There is no position more visible and more public than your police chief, Sampson said, adding that it was important to put the time into the process of the search.
  9. If you want to search outside, then what is it that you don’t like about the internal candidate or his administration? If you have a cohesive police department, why would you go outside? Internal promotions are very healthy for other employees in the police department.
  10. Sampson noted that the Cohasset police department had six supervisors in the police department. “You should be looking at all six (to interview for chief). That’s your command group. Interview all of them.
  11. Civil Service is encouraging assessment centers.  They started doing these for chief and deputy chief. They do them statewide once a year.
  12. If you have a final candidate without a bachelor’s degree, give your candidate a year or two to complete the degree.
  13. Be careful of requirements, Sampson said. He noted that the FBI Academy that offers a full semester of credits is very difficult to get into – there is a 5-8-year waiting period. You can’t say that school is a requirement because most people can’t get into it.
  14. Walk through how much or how little you want the consultant to do. He added he strongly suggested that the board utilize an assessment center.


© Copyright 2013 Tanna K, All rights Reserved. Written For: Tinytown Unleashed

  3 comments for “Cohasset Selectmen to Hire Consultant for Chief Search

  1. Tom Callahan
    April 18, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    Does anyone have any institutional memory of how Jackson and Deluca were hired? I believe internal candidates were invited to apply and did – and one, Jackson, was appointed (in what I recall was a 3-2 vote). I was on the BOS for the Jackson selection. I believe we had a screening committee of the TM, I think outside chief or chiefs, and perhaps 1-2 Selectmen, and citizen(s). We had 2 finalists, internal Jackson and external small city lieutenant. We interviewed them publicly, I believe, but even if it was executive session, the entire Board participated. Haddad very much had the power of appointment, and I believe expressed a preference, but the decision was left to the Board. How was the Deluca search and process different? Why must the wheel of at least process be re-invented each time we do something?

  2. Mike Coughlin
    April 17, 2013 at 8:23 pm

    Well said Mary. In light of Monday’s events, we owe to the men and women who place themselves “in harm’s way” to go that extra mile for justice–in Cohasset this means Sgt Conte. Forcing Sgt Conte’s retirement as opposed to other dispositions was primarily based upon allegations that I received about his alleged insubordination against Chief Deluca.

    Even if every allegation against Sgt Conte was true– and in hindsight– I am very much concerned about such a conclusion, options such as keeping him on the force and extending him the opportunity for additional retraining were not considered because I was led to believe he was not a positive influence on the force given his alleged conduct of undercutting Chief Deluca.

    Sgt Jack Conte should be reinstated immediately and allowed to compete if he so chooses.

  3. Mary Snow
    April 17, 2013 at 6:52 pm

    Before the Selectman begin the process for hiring a new police chief, they have to address the current allegations made by the former town manager and police chief in the case of Sargeant John Conte. These allegations refer to illegalities of current members of the Cohasset Police Department including the Acting Police Chief who will surely be applying for the top job. The integrity of the department will never be trusted until this is undertaken by both the Internal Affairs Division as well as an outside investigator. There are many who are tired of the continuing sweeping of the proverbial dirt under the rug. Those members of the Cohasset Police Department not only destroyed the reputation of a respected and dedicated officer but also fanned an already distrustful cloud throughout the community. If there was no wrong doing as claimed, they should not be afraid of an unbiased investigation. The cloud will surely continue to hang over Cohasset until this is dealt with head-on. We will never forget what was done and will never give up righting the wrong no matter who the chief is.

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