City Council Interviews Candidates for Police Chief, Decision Might Come Monday

 11/10/2017 - 21:08
Jeffrey Lewis and Jerrod Hart interviewed with Saline City Council Thursday. They are the finalists in the city's police chief search.

Saline City Council interviewed the two finalists seeking to become police chief during a special meeting Thursday at City Hall.

Jeffrey Lewis, a Saline native and Director of Public Safety for Muskegon, and Jerrod Hart, Assistant Chief of Police for the City of Novi, appeared before council for a final round of interviews. They were the finalists of 40 applicants for the position.

Each candidate answered the questions of council members for almost an hour.

Mayor Brian Marl said he hopes council will choose one of the two candidates at Monday’s Saline City Council meeting.

“I’m hopeful we can consider extending a conditional offer to one of these two gentlemen at our next regular council meeting,” Marl said.

Marl said the hiring of the police chief is an important duty.

“Next to the city manager I believe the police chief is perhaps the most critical, most important position to fill,” Marl said. “Additionally I have no doubt that either Mr. Hart or Mr. Lewis would do an outstanding job leading our department, maintaining a standard of excellence and taking it to the next level.”

Marl said the choice before council was to determine the better fit to move the department forward.

The interview process began with Hart and finished with Lewis. Each councillor posed questions to the candidates. They queried their candidates about their thoughts on concepts like inclusivity and situational leadership. Councillors asked about how they would build relationships outside the city government, become the face of the department, balance community relations with administrative duties, work with the media, recruit new officers to an aging department, deal with problems inside the department and build trust and unity in the department.

Hart told council there was something about his opportunity that had him excited.

“I don’t know what it is about this position or opportunity. My goal over the next year was to find my next home for 10 to 15 years. My family almost immediately, upon applying for this position, started sending me house listings,” Hart said. “I don’t know what it is about this position and this community, other than I love the feel of everyone seems to have a sense of a progressive community. It’s very protective and proud of its downtown and its rich history. This is probably one of the best opportunities I’ve had.”

Hart said he’d be honored to work with city council to establish the police department as one of the best in the state.

He said it would be his goal within six months to make council feel like he’d grown up here.

Lewis actually did grow up in Saline. He worked in Ypsilanti and was chief in Milan before moving to Muskegon. Lewis told council that he was excited about the opportunity to interview for the position.

“I believe I am up for the task. I’ve spent my entire law enforcement career always working to better enhance myself. The City of Saline will have a difficult decision. But I can tell you this, I think I bring the highest quality of experience and knowledge and education to make sure I am the best leader and best executive that you could possibly hire,” Lewis said. “I never quit training myself and my staff. I bring all that to you and I’m just hoping that at some point I can be here in the City of Saline.”

The city paid Mercer group $25,000 to assist with the search for a police chief and screen candidates. The city council struck a work group to interview candidates and recommend the finalists to city council. They work group included City Manager Todd Campbell, Mayor Brian Marl, Councillors Linda TerHaar and Jack Ceo, Chelsea Police Chief Ed Toth and Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office Commander Marlene Radzik.

“In addition to scrutinizing every application and preparing thoughtful concise questions for the candidates, the greatest strength of the committee came from the more than five decades of professional, command-level public safety experience that three of our members possess,” Marl said. “I have no doubt that it strengthened and enriched our process.”

Marl said the hiring of the police chief is an important duty.

“Next to the city manager I believe the police chief is perhaps the most critical, most important position to fill,” Marl said. “Additionally I have no doubt that either Mr. Hart or Mr. Lewis would do an outstanding job leading our department, maintaining a standard of excellence and taking it to the next level.”

Council Question Jerrod Hart Jeffrey Lewis
Inclusivity Partnering with the community. Emagine Theater. Schools. Watching Homes. Working with the older communities. A lot of individuals don't feel included. Work with groups like Rotary and work to make the department more active.
Face of Police Fully immersed. Always live where I work. Already attending open houses. Build relationships. SPD is well established. Very involved in community policing efforts. Use surveys for feedback. Going out and being a friendly, regular citizen.
Greatest Leadership Strenghts High degree of integrity. Loyalty. Would like to work for 15 years. I am a communicator, I want to help people and I like working with people. Can communicate with people of all backgrounds.
Officer conduct Hold Employees accountable. Go back to the rule book. Investigate. Everyone is watching Professionalism in policing is better than ever. That said, misconduct is not tolerated. But it's better to be proactive than reactive.
Build Department Unity. Negativity is a state of mind. Change minds through positive reinforcement. Discover the cause of problems. Get feedback. Has taken over departments with issues before. Be human. Find out what's wrong and how it can be fixed.
How it's always done It signifies laziness and not wanting to use vision. Evolution is required. Assess the need for change and get buy-in. Faced resistance before big changes at Milan.
Aging SPD Always be recruiting, at the gym, at Benny's and the barbergshop. Training. Opportunities. A plan of succession is needed.
Technlogy. Familiar with Clemis. Very familiar with Saline's system. Helped build some of the same system in Milan. Sees the benefit of the 800 MHZ radio system, lacking in Muskegon.
Working regionally. Criminals don't know boundaries.  
Collective Bargaining Sat in on negotiations in Novi. Doesn't like the term demands. Encourages reason and flexibility. Likes win-win deals. Win-lose deals don't create good culture. Experienced on both sides of the table.
Opiod Heartbreaking crisis. No way to arrest way out of it. Education and support. Data to use resources best. Wasn't asked this question.
Relationships Being warm and friendly. Stopping in the businesses. Talking to people. I am warm and personable. Very social and enjoy meeting people. Active in service groups.
Chain of Command All on same team. Open door policty. Let City manager know about conversations. Respects chain of command. 
Manage time Two hours a day on admin. Balance depends on the community and its demands. Joins community organizations. Gets out in the community the old fashion way.
Media Relationships Always an open and amicable relationship with the media. Handles that now. As chief you're the voice and have to have a good relationship with the media. Difficult with today's real-time news.
Lexipol Policies Has a similar policy program now. Wants to analyze Lexipol. Just started moving to Lexipol in Muskegon and sees the value.

 

Tran Longmoore
Tran Longmoore is owner of The Saline Post. Email him at tran@thesalinepost.com or call him at 734-272-6294

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