The Ottumwa Courier

February 22, 2013

Applications for police chief rolling in

CHELSEA DAVIS
Courier Staff Writer

OTTUMWA — With Police Chief Jim Clark’s retirement becoming official this Saturday, it’s time to look for a new chief to take over the department.

City Administrator Joe Helfenberger said applications for the police chief’s position close today. City Attorney Joni Keith said as of Wednesday she had received 13 applications.

Soon after, Keith and City Clerk Amanda Valent will review the applications “to make sure they conform to the job description for basic eligibility,” Helfenberger said.

The job description states that the candidate would be responsible for a total of 49 police officers and support staff. The chief reports directly to Helfenberger. The candidate must be at least 27 years old and hold a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or related field “with 15 years in a public law enforcement agency, seven years of which must have been in a supervisory position and three years of which must have been at a command level.”

The applicant must also pass a physical examination with a drug screen and achieve certification as an Iowa peace officer within one year of appointment.

First, the Ottumwa Civil Service Commission will meet and approve a written test and send invitations to the approved applicants with an initial questionnaire.

The written test will be overseen by Valent, Keith and the civil service commission.

Next applicants will sit before a panel, which will include Helfenberger, Keith, Oskaloosa Police Chief Jake McGee, Fairfield Police Chief Julie Harvey, a member of the public safety committee, a citizen “who would represent a minority segment of the community that also has a background in criminal justice” and a civil service commission member.

The civil service commission will then certify a list of the top five to seven candidates.

“At that point, the names will be released to the public,” Helfenberger said.

The top five candidates will then be invited to an interview with the entire City Council, Mayor Frank Flanders, Valent and Keith, which would be conducted in open session.

“We’re looking at then setting up a date for an open social or meet and greet, as well as interviews,” Helfenberger said.

The social will be open to the public, but the interviews — if the applicants request — can be in closed session, he said.

An exact time frame has not been set in stone, he said, “but we’ll try to do the process as expeditiously as possible.”

“We’d like to try to have somebody as soon as possible but we want the process to be as high quality as possible,” he said.

The position is involved in public policy and has a lot of public contact, Helfenberger said.

“In the past, we may have had, for some positions, a minority of the council involved in the interview process, but here we’re looking at having the whole council,” he said.