First of three community input meetings held Thursday; residents stress Pasadena’s ‘uniqueness’
Published : Friday, September 7, 2018 | 5:26 AM
[Updated] Pasadena’s search for a new police chief to replace former Chief Phillip Sanchez, who left the position in April, has begun in earnest. Former Deputy Chief John Perez has been serving as Interim Chief since Sanchez’s departure and is an active candidate for the position.
Thursday evening scores of residents filled a community meeting room at Victory Park for the first of three meetings sponsored by the City to gather community input on the selection process.
City Manager Steve Mermell introduced recruiter Teri Black, who led the meeting.
“This is an important meeting,” Black told the group. “We’re looking for two things here. ‘What are the qualities and characteristics of a good candidate, and what would be the new Chief’s priorities?’”
In an exercise that Black called “designing the perfect Police Chief,” residents listed more than twenty qualities they would like to see, including the new Chief being community-oriented, a good communicator, a critical thinker, and a “decisive and collaborative leader.”
The candidate “should have a familiarity with Pasadena,” agreed many, who also noted that Pasadena is “unique” from other cities of similar size given its economic and cultural diversity.
“It’s not like Santa Clarita,” said one respondent.
Others noted that the new Chief should have leadership experience, though not necessarily as a Chief.
Other speakers spoke to the need to have a Chief who is tech-savvy, college-educated, well-liked, and “supportive of his troops,” but not at the expense of the community.
Much of the discussion centered around the notion of “community,” in fact, and how important it would be for the Chief to understand the nature of Pasadena.
“I don’t think some Midwesterner could come in here and learn Pasadena in a week, maybe not even in a year,” offered one resident.
Others noted the importance of having the new Chief work actively with youth and neighborhood organizations to “rebuild trust in the department.”
Attendees seized on the notion of Pasadena’s uniqueness, citing the weather, the Rose Bowl and Rose Parade, and the idea of “Pasadenans looking out for each other.”
‘Relationships matter here,” said one resident.
Another resident half-jokingly mentioned that the new Chief “would have to understand the rivalry between John Muir High School and Pasadena High School,” to which others laughed but agreed.
Setting the stage for the upcoming search, Black noted that there are a number of barriers to finding a strong candidate, the most notable of which is the fact that many Police Chief candidates are either retiring or are of retirement age.
The cost of living in Pasadena was also cited as a difficulty in attracting candidates.
In addition, said Black, there are a number of positions open nationwide and the conditions are “very competitive.”
According to City Manager Mermell, input from the three meetings would be gathered and used as part of the candidate interview process.
A flyer and job description would be ready in a few weeks, he added.
Recruiter Black’s firm would initially receive the resumes and prepare a list of suitable candidates for the City to interview.
The City hopes to complete the hiring process by the end of the calendar year.
Mermell also said, though the search is nationwide, he believes that most of the candidates will be from California.