HPD chief search

New police chief — The city of Healdsburg has started its search for a new chief of police ahead of Healdsburg Police Chief Kevin Burke’s plans to retire at the end of this month.

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The city of Healdsburg recently launched a police chief recruitment process through a recruiting firm ahead of Healdsburg Police Chief Kevin Burke’s retirement at the end of this month.

Burke announced his plan to retire at the end of last year during a Nov. 2 Healdsburg City Council meeting when council members recognized him for his 10-year anniversary with the city.

“We’re just launching the recruitment now,” said Healdsburg City Manager Jeff Kay. “We’ve engaged the firm Peckham & McKenney, Inc. to solicit proposals from a handful of recruiters to get started.” 

Folks can view the job listing and description of the position here

In part, the description describes Healdsburg’s population as, “approximate(ly) 12,100 diverse and highly engaged residents (that) enjoy a lively, appealing downtown experience centered around the Spanish-style Healdsburg Plaza. Today, more than 30% of Healdsburg’s community are of Latinx heritage. Their culture and economic contributions have enriched Healdsburg since its inception and continue to do so today.”

Applicants are required to file their information with the recruiter by June 21.

The hiring firm is also currently soliciting applications for another Sonoma County executive role, the director of human resources position for the city of Petaluma.

“We’re still in the very early stages of soliciting applicants… It will take about six weeks, at which point we’ll start reviewing, with the help of the recruiter, the applicant pool and try to whittle that list down to a smaller group of finalists to go through panel interviews,” Kay said.

Kay said the panel is not completely defined at this point.

“The vision is to have a couple of panels. Almost always in government we have a subject matter expert and experts in the field, so that will certainly happen,” Kay said.

He said there may also be a couple other police chiefs from other jurisdictions on the panel as well as one or two members of the city of Healdsburg’s executive staff.

“So that would be one panel and that’s a rather traditional thing to do for hiring executive positions. It is also my intent to put together a community panel with representatives from different groups within the community to try to get some feedback from them as well,” he noted.

Kay said he expects to run the candidates through the “gauntlet” of the panels.

“Ultimately I would consult with both panels and use that information to determine who I would interview with for final interviews,” he said.

The listed annual salary range for the position is $167,000 to $203,000.

Per city municipal code the police chief position is a city manager hire.

The Healdsburg City Council only hires two people, the city manager and the city attorney.

Kay said even though the police chief is not a city council hire he is talking with the city council in order to get feedback on what kind of person would be desired for the role.

“To me it’s important that we have a police chief that they feel good about and they have confidence in and on the same token if there are folks in the community who feel that they’d like to share something I would welcome that,” he said.

City Manager Kay can be reached at jkay@ci.healdsburg.ca.us.

In terms of other community feedback efforts, Kay said he is working with the recruiters to create some sort of survey instrument where residents could provide feedback and ideas on what they’d like to see in their next police chief.

“We’ll put that out to the public. I know the same thing was done last year for my position, so we’re working on something like that, but I don’t know exactly what it will look like and when it will launch at this point but it will be well in advance of getting those final applicants,” Kay said.

The survey would be in both English and Spanish.

Chief Burke will be with the city until the end of May. When asked if he will have any input on the candidate search and selection, Kay said not formally.

“He’ll have departed after that, but I can assure you that I’m talking to him and taking his input very seriously. I highly value his opinion, nobody knows that department better than he does,” Kay said.

Kay said he wouldn’t be surprised if they received a couple dozen candidates from which they then would whittle down the list based on higher-ranking candidates.

“I believe we have a recruiter that’s going to work very aggressively to get us a large qualified and diverse pool of applicants, they understand that’s a priority for me,” he said.

According to Kay, someone won’t likely be in the role until a couple of months.

In the meantime, someone from the Healdsburg Police Department will be appointed to an interim police chief role. Kay said they’ll likely make the interim role announcement soon.

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