SANTA MARIA, Calif- Since the Santa Maria police chief retired amid controversy earlier this year, the city has decide to allow the community to help find the new chief.
"It's going to be a very competitive process. I know there is a lot of people interested in coming to Santa Maria", said Rick Haydon Santa Maria City Manager. The city has decided against utilizing a recruiting firm to hire the new police chief which is expected to save up to $30,000.
"We're doing it internally. We're going to have our city staff doing the recruitment. We're doing a nationwide recruitment," said Haydon.
City leaders want the process to be inclusive and draw heavily from community input. "We have to make sure we get everybody involved, so in my case we also have to build the trust back in the community because we lost that," said C.C. Todd, a community activist.
Todd believes it's important that the new chief re-establishes a policy known as "community policing."
In addition to community involvement, the city will also use the Police Officer's Association in the search for the new chief. Chris Nartatez with the Santa Maria Police Officer's Association said, "we are going to be able to have some questions posed to the candidates that are going to be selected for the new chief."
The Police Officers Association, which gave the former chief a "vote of no confidence" earlier this year, is happy to be included into the search process. "We're looking for a leader who is going to be fair and consistent, who is going to be looking for the needs of the community and for the police officers," said Sgt. Nartatez
The city will also use focus groups, an on-line survey, and will gather input from businesses and community leaders to determine what qualities the new chief should have.
The hope is to have three finalists chosen by December and a new chief in place by late January or early February.