Saline Hosts Public Forum In Police Chief Search

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By Angelo Parlove,

Last week the City of Saline compiled a list of qualities and attributes it will be looking for in its next police chief  –  integrity, fairness, a leader and mentor, vision for the future and someone who can unite the community, to name a few.

“They need to be part of the greater fabric of the community so they understand what the community’s desires, needs and wants are, so they can better put their efforts and resources towards those,” City Manager Todd Campbell said.

“I know we will have plenty of folks that will be qualified for the position, but it’s critical we find that right fit for this community,” Campbell added.

With Larry Hrinik – the current chief of the Saline Police Department – retiring later this year, the City of Saline hosted a public forum at City Hall Aug 29 to seek out those qualities and attributes that citizens are looking for in his replacement.

The forum was attended by a mix of residents, city staff and council members, and led by Jim Mercer of the Mercer Group, a management consulting and executive search firm the city hired to assist with the hiring process of the new chief. The attendees voiced their opinions on the qualities and traits they were seeking in their chief.

“That’s mostly what we want to do tonight, get your thoughts about what you’d like to see in the way of a new police chief, characteristics you’d like us to look for in the way of a chief of police,” Mercer, who has over 30 years of executive search experience, told the gathered audience at the start of the public forum.

Council Member Jack Ceo – who boasts more than 40 years experience in law enforcement, including serving as deputy police chief in both the Cities of Ann Arbor and Saline – advocated the next police chief needs to understand the expectations of the Saline community.

“Over that time I worked for a lot of police chiefs, so I’ve seen a lot of different styles. When I first began police work, the police kind of dictated how things were going to be. The law was written in the book, black and white,” Ceo said. “Over the years it seems more and more I’ve heard the phrase the community pays our wage as police officers, so we really need to listen to the community.”

“What you do in the police department needs to be tempered by the tenor of the community,” Ceo added.

Saline Area Schools Superintendent Scot Graden brought the district’s perspective to the forum. Graden said the relationship between the schools and the City of Saline and its police department is critical to the success of the district.

“From the school perspective, in terms of wanting a chief who partners with the school, certainly. We’ve had that in the past and want that to continue,” he said. “The majority of our buildings are within city limits. That’s critical to us in terms of our success, making sure that our students, our staff, our families feel safe.”

All the qualities and characteristics Saline residents are seeking in their next police chief will now be included in the job description and profile that will used during the search and hiring process. The plan is to select a new chief in November.

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Seth Kinker

Reporter/Digital Media for The Sun Times News

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