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Town receives results of assessment tests for new police chief

Date: 8/1/2012

By Debbie Gardner

WEST SPRINGFIELD — The candidate assessments are done. The next step in the search for a new chief of police is to tap the best scorers for interviews with the Public Safety Commission (PSC).

Human Resource Director Sandra MacFadyen told Reminder Publications she has received word that the state's Department of Human Resources (DHR) has given final approval to results submitted by MMA Consulting Group of Brookline, which conducted the assessment testing for six candidates who applied for the chief of police position, and five who applied for the deputy police chief position.

Though the Town Council refused to fund the deputy chief position during its review of the fiscal year 2013 budget, MacFadyen said the candidate selection was already in process, and could not be stopped.

She said the town should receive two letters from the DHR outlining the scores for both the chief and deputy chief applicants shortly. She added that the individual candidates would also be receiving letters from the DHR.

During his weekly press conference, Mayor Gregory Neffinger said the core assessment for both positions was the same, "with a few modules taken away for the deputy chief [and] a few added for the chief."

MacFayden said the PSC was now charged with reviewing the scores, conducting one-on-one interviews with the candidates and making a formal recommendation to the mayor."

Neffinger said he has discussed his role in the selection process with members of the PSC.

"I've mentioned to them I would like to weigh in on it and they have asked me if I would like to sit in when they interview the candidates," Neffinger said.

He said he hasn't decided at this point if he will actually participate in the interview process, or attend the meeting as an observer. He also noted that the PSC hasn't decided if it will interview all the candidates for each position, or just the top three.

MacFayden said she could not release the names of the individuals who had applied for each position until the PSC had formally invited them to an interview.

Neffinger, who will have the final say on who is appointed as the new chief of police, said though he had originally hoped to have the position filled by June, he is now optimistic the position would be filled "by the end of August or early September."

MacFayden said she expected the PSC to complete its work "around Labor Day," as vacations might impact a committee quorum.

Neffinger said he is also consulting with Town Attorney Simon Brighenti Jr. to determine if there is a viable avenue to fund the deputy police chief position at this time.