Cohasset Selectmen vote 5-0 to set aside Cohasset Police Search

Directly after Cohasset acting town manager Mike Milanoski gave selectmen an update on the Cohasset Police Chief Search, saying 9 persons had applied for the position, Selectman Fred Koed read a prepared statement critiquing the advertisement and the lack of any public placement, convincing his colleagues to set aside the current posting and to begin anew.

Upon the suggestion of Koed, the board also agreed to invite Chief Wayne Sampson, Executive Director of the Mass Chiefs Association to visit with the board at a time to be determined and discuss the process of advertising for a chief. Koed also advised his board to obtain a paid consultant to work with selectmen and a screening committee, suggesting a sum of $9,000 be put aside for that purpose.

A new ad could go out as early as the end of next week, selectmen said. They also were of the consensus that the ad should run in the MMA bulletin and other public places such as the Globe and the Patriot Ledger. However, should the selectmen advertise the position for 30 days, it will run into Town Elections on May 11 and a newly constituted board will decide the issue. And it does appear the task of hiring a police chief has been taken away from the acting town manager.

 

Koed’s prepared remarks are as follows:

 Mr. Chairman,

Let me put my remarks in context.

Last Wednesday, I sent an email to the Chairman of the Board of Selectmen and cc’d the rest of the Board of Selectmen and the Acting Town Manger regarding my concerns about the posting of the Police Chief’s position.

I requested an open meeting be posted for Friday night April, 4, 2013 at 7:00 PM. That would have been within the 48 hours required by law. I requested a sole agenda item titled “Police Chief Search Process.”

Instead, my request was downplayed and postponed. We now see an agenda titled Police Chief Search Update, for tonight. This “update”, Mr. Chairman now happens a day after the “search” was closed.

Mr. Chairman my concern to have that meeting before the posting period had closed was to allow this Board to review the fact that in fact NO PUBLIC JOB ADVERTISEMENT has gone out to any newspaper of record in Eastern Massachusetts.

That, Mr. Chairman, should be enough on the face of it to for this Board to halt the process before any more damage is done to the reputation the Town of Cohasset. Mr. Chairman for whatever reason it was decided my request could wait until tonight. Here we are.

My first complaint is that a job opening for any position on the public payroll of Cohasset deserves to be fully advertised for 30 days in public media. That did not happen in this case – the case of nothing less than the chief law enforcement official in our community.

At a minimum, the posting of such an important position should appear in the MMA Bulletin, the periodic record of the Massachusetts Municipal Association. It didn’t.

At a minimum, such a posting should state fully the salary. It didn’t. This particular posting states NO SALARY — not even a range. This position in fact has a very attractive salary, and I am left to the conclusion that it was purposely left off so as to attract fewer resumes instead of more resumes.

This posting at a minimum should require a bachelor’s degree, it doesn’t.

Let me say that again, so we all understand: This Board apparently will be asked to support a hiring process for our new Chief of Police in which a college degree is not required to fill the position. I would argue because Cohasset values education so much, it should require a master’s degree or higher in criminal justice.

Mr. Chairman, I spoke for 40 minutes over the weekend to Chief A. Wayne Sampson, Ret., Executive Director of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association. Mr. Chairman, the Acting Town Manager sent a request to distribute a job posting to the Mass. Chiefs of Police Association at 6:12 PM just before the selectmen’s meeting where he announced to us, he had “Advertised” the position.

Mr. Chairman, the Mass Police Chiefs Association adman was busy getting ready for their annual tradeshow. The e-mail request finally went out after the tradeshow on Friday morning April 5, 2013 for a job posting that closed the next business day, Monday, April 8th.

Mr. Chairman it went out to all the Massachusetts Police Chiefs in Massachusetts who already have jobs! Nothing wrong with that but hardly the targeted recruitment the citizens deserve for this important position.

Mr. Chairman, the other place the job posting was “advertised” was the CJIS law enforcement communications network. Here is a quote from the CJIS website as to the purpose of the site.

“The CJIS offers law enforcement and criminal justice agencies within the state and across the nation secure access 24 hours per day 7 days a week to state and interstate criminal history record information, missing and wanted person files, drivers’ license and motor vehicle information and other critical criminal justice information via the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (NLETS)…”

Mr. Chairman, I didn’t see “job postings” among the purposes cited. While I have no objection to posting a job there, one has to question how the job got posted there. Only CORI Eyes Only certified personnel” are allowed to look at the screens.

Mr. Chairman, from what I can see very little planning or aforethought went into this search process. Clearly there was little thought on how this would reflect on our town.

Mr. Chairman, another abnormality is the requirement that all applicants be required to have attended the FBI National Academy OR FBI-LEEDA Command School. Mr. Chairman, this has set up the absurd possibility that a candidate that had a Master’s Degree or even a Doctorate degree in criminal justice would be determined ineligible because they didn’t have a FBI-LEEDA 5 day $650 course under their belt.

According to Mr. Wayne Sampson, there is “no way FBI-LEEDA should be used” as a qualifying certification in a posting for Police Chief. FBI-LEEDA I am told should not ever be confused with the FBI national Academy itself, because it is not the same.

Mr. Chairman, this Board should have had a full briefing prior to the beginning of the search, as to exactly what the advertising plan was, what media outlets would be used, and what those costs were. We should have been given the opportunity to decide if we wanted to hire an expert consultant in the field of public safety recruitment.

We should have been given the opportunity to discuss what type of local citizen, or outside expert, or both was being proposed for the search committee.

We should have been given the opportunity to decide if we wanted a full-blown assessment center to be given to the final four or eight candidates that a full search process would be whittled down to after getting 30-50 resumes.

Mr. Chairman, the Massachusetts Town of Millbury just began a search and 45 resumes were the results of the type of outreach the citizens of Cohasset deserve. This is a public sector job, not a private sector job with the latitude to restrict knowledge of the posting to certain insiders.

After everything Cohasset has been through, don’t our citizens, our serving officers, and this Board deserve to make those decisions here in an open public fashion?

Does Cohasset really deserve the façade of a process we are instead getting – one frankly open to the charge of wheeling and dealing in the hiring of this critical position?

Mr. Chairman it is time to pull the plug on this “search” before any more harm comes to the reputation of this great community. She deserves better than this.

Mr. Chairman, in view of these extremely serious points, I make a motion to:

Set aside this current Police Chief Posting that closed as of April 8th as defective in its outreach due to the fact that it was never publicly advertised on any platform that didn’t require a secure login to view the posting.

Further, Mr. Chairman I’m adding to the motion that The Chairman take up Chief Wayne Sampson, the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, on his offer to come out to Cohasset pro bono, at no obligation, a week from tonight and answer questions and explain the correct process to conduct a Police Chief search.

Thank you Mr. Chairman. That is the end of my prepared remarks.

Meeting News Summary

Acting town manager Mike Milanoski gave selectmen a very poor accounting of his search for police chief. He had advertised on one non-public secure site for all of 14 days. The second (password protected) site on which he tried to place his ad, Mass Chiefs, published his ad on April 5, for an April 8th deadline. This was their fault, he said. “They dropped the ball.”

When Milanoski discussed with selectmen his rationale for writing the ad, four of five selectmen balked. Milanoski explained how in February he met with the board of selectmen to discuss hiring a police chief. He said the board suggested he go out for a public search and to make clear that the town had a strong internal candidate. It is unclear why this discussion was held in executive session.

Last night, Milanoski had planned to extend the search by two more weeks, rewrite the ad to take out some of the job description posted, such as the strong language noting that the town had a strong internal candidate (advised by counsel after the fact).

He did have plans for an excellent community review process. Participants would include a former chief, a local judge, an external town manager, and current police chief and more. Only problem is, his candidates might not be so excellent. Particularly if they didn’t have that little two-day Leeds school course that Acting Police Chief William Quigley took.

But the job posting had other problems that selectmen learned about during discussion.
Milanoski wanted only Mass police officers to apply, no one from out of state because they wouldn’t be current with our laws. And he wanted only employed officers, not anyone unemployed. (How soon we forget.)

Selectman candidate Russ Bonetti said he read the strong internal candidate line as discriminatory, and he thought someone with a masters in criminal justice could catch up with the laws pretty quickly.

Koed worried that applicants were instructed to not even apply if they did not graduate from an FBI Leed or Leeda Command school. Koed said that was absurd. He also noted that the selectmen never saw a copy of the ad before it went out. In fact, the ad went out the day before their March 26th meeting. A copy of the ad was in their packets that night. On March 26 Milanoski was vague about where the ad had been posted. Perhaps he himself did not post the ad.

Select chair Paul Carlson disagreed that the ultimate candidate had to have a master’s degree or a BS in Criminal Justice. He said a police officer with experience could be chief if he completed his degree by a certain date.

“Why are we discussing candidates? Koed said, adding that Chief Sampson told him that it’s highly recommended that patrolmen have bachelor’s degrees…why not for the top command?

Selectman Diane Kennedy asked Milanoski about the new posting for chief that he was contemplating until the selectmen shot it down. “Does the new advertisement still have the same language?

Milanoski responded: “Do we really want someone out of state? I would argue we don’t.” He added again that he wanted someone currently employed. “We’re looking for an existing Mass police chief,” who he said had demonstrated his interest in advancing to a higher position by having participated in Leeda and other certifications.

Kennedy said a search committee weeds people out.

Gjesteby said she wanted an ad in the MMA bulletin and the Globe… “I would like a masters degree, too.”

Citizen Agnes McCann noted that the town manager had proceeded in this endeavor without having followed proper procedures. “Did town counsel see this?”

Milanoski said he didn’t know when town counsel saw the ad.

Koed asked Milanoski to explain why he required one of three Leeda courses and not the others. Milanoski said he would be happy to give Koed a print out of the program.

Koed then explained the Leeda program to him, saying that Chief Sampson had said this requirement was unusual and perverse. “Someone with a doctorate could be denied this course because he did not have this 2 day program taught by police office graduates, not the FBI.”

Milanoski said Koed as throwing out sound bites for the press. “I followed the lead given by selectmen), now we’re looking at this based upon the direction provided me.”

Selectman Lee Jenkins, speaking from Skype, said “The process has been broken. I think we have to go to a 30-day advertisement, and we should hear Wayne Sampson. Maybe next Wednesday, Thursday or Friday we go out with a new request.”

Kennedy said she agreed, adding that the acting town manager has made a lot of mistakes, but said it would be wrong to continue the search. ‘I’m sorry you had to take the beating you have,” she told Milanoski. “We did have a session, we did discuss the job, Martha asked when are we going to get it posted. We need to take the blame. It is clear that I do think the job description was not written as well as it should have been.”

Gjesteby said “Everything in life is not perfect. Let’s go back and do it right….we represent the Town of Cohasset.

The police budget was voted – the safety officer is gone and Jen Oram will be returned to the selectmen’s office at her regular salary and it appears will be resuming her regular duties.

Kennedy spoke strongly in favor of Oram’s return over the past few weeks, as did Gjesteby. Kennedy said “We need administrative support in this office. Some of the admin support in this office has been helping out in police station. We’re behind in minutes, there’s too much shell game going on, we ‘re not addressing concerns of this office.”

Before the meeting ended at the amazing early hour of 9:05 p.m., Koed said at the next meeting he wanted to discuss the police and fire contracts and wanted Firefighter 1 to be removed from the police contract.

Selectmen vote 4-1 to approve the Town Manager’s Act. Gjesteby voted no.

 

© Copyright 2013 Tanna K, All rights Reserved. Written For: Tinytown Unleashed
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  2 comments for “Cohasset Selectmen vote 5-0 to set aside Cohasset Police Search

  1. Callahan
    April 10, 2013 at 10:36 am

    Fred’s re-awakening continues. Diane is now joining him, thank god, at least on this issue. (Although they unfortunately voted for the changes to the TM Act pressed by a committee with an agenda. That, however, is an issue for another day).

    The process for selecting a new chief is not rocket science. It was done when Chief Noonan retired and when Chief Hussey left. We can debate the selections that came as a result, but there was a process that in this case is simply being ignored – all to achieve a certain end and culminate a decade-long campaign for the spot.

    And the real rub is that the acting TM outright lied to the BOS about his posting. That should be enough to fire him. His posting is illegal, or if not, so flawed that it indeed needs to be re-done, and not by him. Town coiunsel should draft the next version.

    We need a thorough, open and far-reaching search, including, I hope, Jack Conte, out-of-staters, employed, unemployed, whoever. There should be universally recognized educational criteria applied, and yes a college degree should be, a probably is universally accepted as, a minimum. A short course, $650 or free, FBI or not, should not a chief make. I recall the selection I participated in when on the BOS. It came down to 2 choices, an internal candidate I always thought was a hardass ally of the then “young Turks” and a lieutenant from a moderate size Mass. city, obviously looking for the job for a short term before retirement. We chose the internal candidate. He proved not to be a hardass; actually leadership was rather weak but to his credit, it was also actively undermined by internal divisions, leading to the disciplinary actions of 2003-04 (which, for various reasons, over-reached in its end result, although disciplinary action of some sort was indeed warranted). I voted for the Lt., hoping a city cop would bring some “perspective”, even if short term, to the more gung-ho amongst our force. One may recall that members of my BOS and the PD tussled at budget times over symbolic issues like smoked glass police cars, British commando sweaters, the need for being armed with Glocks, 2 detectives vs. one. I even think we once considered a Lt. position that didn’t yet exist, but decided against it, although I am not sure. Driving while young was a major offense. Arrest statistics amongst the various officers on the force varied wildly. (Don’t forget history, people.) Chief Hussey did that, and came in and more than provided “perspective”. Things seemed to quiet down (also gone were the smoked glass and sweaters – I don’t know what guns they have and have no problem if they have the current state of the art). Chief Hussey had no axes to grind. He was perfect for this community – out there at events, engaged, not hostile to any element of the community, not, to my knowledge, divisive or a side-taker within the department, non-political – he knew how this town wanted to be policed and executed that policy. He promoted a harassed female officer, now no longer with our force, whose testimony during the disciplinary hearings I can still vividly recall.

    I don’t know if the early 2000s experience with an internally promoted chief had anything to do with the decision of DeLuca vs. Conte. I do know that during my time on the BOS we had a divided and factionalized PD. I do know that we had competing theories on policing. (I also know that these divisions were not unique to Cohasset and common to many area PDs, in large part due to generational differences and apparent changes in academy training). In my opinion, the force will not be served by perpetuating divisions, however they came about, if that is what an internal or former internal appointment would do at this point in time. By my observation and in my opinion, we’ve had two chiefs undermined from within in the last 10 years. We have had a progression of new titles and ranks that to my mind were unneeded in a small force. The choice of a new chief, given where the department stands today and where the factionalism has played out, must be very carefully made. A candidate’s manner, demeanor, temperament, “fit” in this type of community and theory of policing must all be taken into account, as we have seen up close and personal (if you’ve looked) what differences in these characteristics can bring. The recent history of our own department must also be remembered in evaluating both internal and external candidates. We cannot and should not rubber stamp this, as is now being attempted. The process followed in the two selections mentioned above have to be employed again. The criteria for the chief has to be determined by the chief executive and SOLE policy maker of the town, the BOS. The TM has the authority to hire (but subject to veto), but he does not have the authority to make policy on what kind of chief and police force we want or to skew things in favor of one candidate.

    BOS – this should be put off until after the election. No harm in maintaining the status quo until then.

  2. Karen F
    April 10, 2013 at 7:27 am

    Just imagine for a moment, the time, the money, the heartache, the endless discussion ad nauseam that could have been avoided three years ago by your town leaders choosing the RIGHT man for the job of Police Chief of the Town of Cohasset. Shame on Cohasset, pity on the residents and taxpayers who have had to suffer this nonsense. And they continue to drain our resources and patience with an “ACTING” Town Manager who will never win an Oscar, a Tony or an Emmy for his pathetic performance. And he’s a liar to boot. Yes, it is a lovely town on the outside, isn’t it? I agree with what many before me have said – time to kick the current leadership to the curb. And keep the “Acting” Town Manager from doing any further damage with back door deals and making it up as he goes along. Maybe he and whatshisname in the CPD can take their show on the road…

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