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Bainbridge will announce finalists for police chief Friday

The names of the five finalists for Bainbridge Island's next police chief will be announced Friday by City Manager Doug Schulze, city officials said Tuesday.

Bainbridge Island has been without a police chief since September.

Jon Fehlman, the city's last chief, resigned late last year after the release of an outside investigation into claims of wrongdoing and misdeeds made against Fehlman by the Bainbridge Island Police Guild. The investigation said evidence was lacking to prove many of the union's claims, and a separate, independent review by the Kitsap County Prosecutor's Office determined that Fehlman had not broken any laws.

Fehlman departed on good terms with the city, and was given a severance package that include six months' salary.

Larry Dickerson, a former police chief from Lacey, has been acting as interim public safety director for the city since last year.

The city started its search for a new chief in December, and signed an agreement with Texas-based Strategic Government Resources in early January to lead the effort.

Bainbridge officials announced earlier this week that the five finalists for the job will be introduced to the community at a public reception next week at city hall. The reception is 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, April 4, in council chambers.

Schulze could not be reached for comment to talk about the finalists.

Tom Muehlenbeck of Strategic Government Resources, the consultant company that led the search effort, declined to offer details on the finalists and deferred to the manager's expected announcement later this week.

"We had a lot of applicants, a lot of very qualified men and women apply for the position, and we followed a process similar to the process we worked with the city manager," Muehlenbeck said.

Strategic Government Resources was the headhunting firm that lead the search for a new city manager that brought Schulze to Bainbridge last year.

Interviews with the five police chief finalists are expected to be conducted Friday, April 5. The city manager, key city staffers and representatives from other law enforcement agencies and island governmental agencies will participate in the interviews, along with a citizens panel.

City officials could not immediately say Tuesday who would serve on the citizens panel.

Bainbridge has set out high expectations for its next chief. In its recruitment materials, the city said it preferred someone who had been a chief in a similar-sized community, with a master's degree in public administration or criminal justice.

The position requires 10 years of law enforcement experience, with at least five years in a senior-level command position.

In describing its "ideal candidate," the city's recruitment brochure said, "The successful candidate will be a consistent and dedicated leader with a collaborative management style. The new police chief will be an excellent communicator within the organization and throughout the community. A person that embraces open and transparent communication, is a good listener, and is committed to taking appropriate action based on factual information will be successful."

The city's recruitment brochure for the job also hinted at the  strained relationship the Bainbridge police department has had with the island community in recent years, as well as the inner turmoil that has troubled the department.

"Building and securing trust between the police chief, the community and the police department is a top priority, with the ultimate goal of improving the professional culture of the department," the brochure noted. "It will be important for the new police chief to develop performance management accountability department-wide to elevate customer service delivery to an exceptional level."

 

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