City Gears up for New Police Chief Search

Local community groups urge inclusion and transparency in the hiring process

Published : Wednesday, March 14, 2018 | 5:57 AM

Police Chief

Not waiting for city officials to devise the procedures that will be used to find and hire a new Chief of Police following Chief Phillip Sanchez’s unexpected retirement announcement Monday, local activist organizations already are urging that they be included in the vetting process.

“We have yet to consider what our process will be for the selection of a new Chief. Certainly, whatever the timing and the process, it will be sure to include ample opportunity for community input,” said Pasadena’s Interim Public Information Officer Lisa Derderian.

According to Dederian, the City will likely be hiring a professional recruiter to assist with the process, but she could not give an estimate as to when the process will officially begin, or when it will be completed.

“At this point, our timing is not determined,” said Dederian. “Given that we will undertake a national search, we will need to give the process sufficient time to identify and recruit top quality candidates. Pasadena residents should feel confident that we have a very qualified and effective leader as interim.”

Deputy Chief John Perez will serve as Interim Chief until a permanent chief is named. He will start in that capacity on March 19.

“We have the utmost confidence in his leadership, professionalism, and ties in the community,” Dederian said of Perez, adding, “Pasadena residents and business should expect the same high level of service they have come to rely upon by the Police Department.”

Added Dederian, “In recent weeks Chief Sanchez had been developing plans to enhance the Department’s many community engagement efforts in the wake of the Chris Ballew incident. This effort will continue to be a high priority for the Department.”

Leaders of Pasadenans Organizing for Progress (POP!), an activist group which has been critical of Pasadena police command and conduct, said they believe “the most important goal of the next police chief will be to establish trust with Pasadena residents.”

“The community should have a say on who will take on this important job,” Pasadenans Organizing for Progress said in a statement. “We call on the City to engage the public in an open and transparent process to select the new leader for the city’s police department.”

In their statement, POP! urged City Manager Steve Mermell to “work with stakeholders in the identification of skills and qualities needed in the next Chief of Police, as well as gather constituent input during the selection process.”

The stakeholders should include the local branches of the NAACP and ACLU, the Coalition for Increased Oversight of the Pasadena Police (CICOPP), POP!, and many others, said the statement.

Pasadena’s last Police Chief recruitment process, which resulted in the hiring of Chief Sanchez, began in 2009 and took about a year to complete. Residents and others were able to provide input during a series of community meetings and on an interactive website page. Two advisory committees were also formed.