Just five months ago, Trickler insisted in a Finger Lakes Times article that he had “no plans to retire” and that the upcoming civil service exams for people interested in the chief’s job were being done “in case the time comes” that he decided to retire so that “the city would be ahead of the process.”
Trickler’s sudden announcement is reminiscent of City Manager Matt Horn’s resignation late last year, when Horn also gave just a month’s notice of his departure from one of the highest-paid and most important jobs in city government.
So, will Council learn a lesson from the city manager search and make an effort to involve the public in the selection process of our new police chief? And will they make sure that there is an authentic and broad list of candidates to consider from both inside and outside the department?
Or will Council simply rubber-stamp one of the names on the limited list of civil service exam candidates and send a message that they know better than the people and that they simply don’t care about transparency, inclusion and public feedback on critically important decisions?
Compiling a List of Job Candidates When There is No Job Opening to Fill?
The process already looks questionable due to the fact that that the chief claimed in January that he had no plans to retire, but then just five months later suddenly announced his retirement with barely a month’s notice. And because the civil service exam has already been given at a time when there was no job opening, city council’s list of candidates will be severely limited, with the majority of candidates already employed by the department.
Trickler is strongly implying that the decision has been made to give the chief job to a current officer:
“While City Council will choose his successor, Trickler said there are several officers in the department now who can do the job.
“I think this is the right time to fill the position with people who have new ideas,” he said. “I have always said that no one is irreplaceable. The city will benefit from the experience in this department.””
This is not a legitimate search process. Scheduling a civil service exam when there is no current job opening is not the way to find the best possible candidate. It is a way to minimize the number of potential candidates so that an already-anointed new chief from within the department can be given the job.
The city cannot afford to give the appearance that they are rigging the game in order to install a new chief.
There must be another round of civil service exams scheduled, which will draw far more interest now that there’s actually a job to fill, and will increase the chances that the city will hire the best available candidate from both inside and outside the police department.
Let the People Help Choose Our Police Chief
If City Council values transparency and inclusion, they should immediately schedule community forums around the city to allow the public to voice their opinions about what kind of police chief they would like to see hired.
For cities across the country, reaching out to gather community feedback when hiring someone to lead the police department has become commonplace, as it helps to build trust between the community and the police.
Public forums as part of a police chief search have recently been utilized in the following cities:
…and many more.
Geneva needs to join this growing list of cities who realize that including the public in the hiring of the police chief is the right thing to do.
No Need to Rush
When the public asked for more inclusion and transparency in the hiring process for the new city manager, some councilors pushed back by claiming that the timeline for the hire is too tight to allow for any such delays.
With the police chief search, there is no reason to hurry. Council can simply name an interim chief, a routine practice in cities around the country, while they begin the search process for a permanent chief.
Contact City Council and tell them that we need a REAL search process to begin today. Let them know that they need to schedule another round of civil service exams, schedule community forums to hear from the people, and involve the people of Geneva in the hiring process from start to finish.
The job of police chief is incredibly important. The relationship between the police and much of the community is severely damaged and needs repair. Council must make certain that, unlike the new city manager, the new police chief won’t be viewed with suspicion by the people because of a shady and glaringly insufficient hiring process.