May 2, 2013 | Volume 43, No. 17

Recruiting firm may assist next chief hire

Haines Borough Manager Mark Earnest is looking into several headhunting firms to see if they might be up to the job of finding Haines a new police chief.

Earnest said during a Tuesday personnel committee meeting he would contact Minnesota-based Brimeyer Fursman LLC, the Washington-based Prothman Company, and Soldotna-based Russell Consulting LLC to explore the process and costs of hiring a third-party recruiting firm to attract, screen and select a replacement police chief.

When asked by assembly member Debra Schnabel what qualities Earnest would seek out in a police chief, Earnest said public communication skills, education, and, especially, small-town policing experience.

“I think you can come from a large police force in a major city that is very segmented; you have limited responsibilities, you’re in charge of investigations. But here it’s like managing: You have to know something about everything,” Earnest said.

Personnel committee member Steve Vick said he would like to see investigative skills and detective experience specifically outlined in the job description, as residents are becoming frustrated with the number of crimes that go unsolved in Haines.

“We have too many crimes here that either go unsolved or unprosecuted, and people around town know who it is and the police know who it is, but they can’t prosecute because they weren’t able to do their own investigation to have the evidence in court,” Vick said.

Vick and Schnabel also cited the capacity for human resources development, such as getting more training and education for the current officers, as a desirable trait in a potential police chief.

Mayor Stephanie Scott pointed out that if a headhunting firm were hired, the company is paid to develop a job description through discussions with the community. “One of the things that you buy when you buy this service is people coming to town to facilitate the local assembly articulating what it is they are looking for in the person they want to hire. They are schooled to bring that out,” Scott said.

Current officers, including interim police chief Simon Ford, should be informed sooner rather than later about whether they stand a chance in obtaining the job or even qualify to apply for the position, Schnabel said in an interview after the meeting.

Brimeyer Fursman is currently working to find a police chief for the Petersburg Borough. Earnest said he has left phone and email messages with borough administrators to check in with how they feel about the company’s work thus far.

Earnest could not provide a timeline on when he would have a report for the personnel committee or borough assembly on his headhunting research.

The committee also will recommend the introduction of an ordinance at the May 14 assembly meeting that would amend borough code to authorize the manager to appoint the police chief, modify the duties of the police chief, and make the hiring of police and correctional officers subject to state law.

According to code, the police chief is currently appointed by, and accountable to, the borough assembly.