By Jeff Gallatin
City officials have set Oct. 5 for the test to replace longtime police chief Dave Wright.
All four of the department lieutenants are taking the exam to replace Wright, who retired several weeks ago to take a post heading the police uniformed officers for the Cleveland Clinic’s security division. The candidates include Lt. Ken Bly, who commands the midnight shift; Lt. Calvin Holliday, the department’s executive officer; current acting chief, Lt. John Kirchner, also a shift commander; and Lt. Mark Spaetzel, who heads up the department’s detective bureau.
After the points are compiled from the test, the results will be given to Mayor Debbie Sutherland. The Bay Village Civil Service Examination ruled that Sutherland could then pick the chief from the top three scorers on the exam. The city first allowed the mayor to pick from the top three candidates when Jim Sammon was selected as fire chief in 2006, replacing longtime chief Greg Jackson. It followed the same process in 2010 when Sutherland picked Chris Lyons to replace Sammon as fire chief.
Wright had become police chief in January 1996, replacing William Gareau, who went on to be clerk of the Rocky River Municipal Court system, of which Bay Village is a longtime member.
Sutherland noted that replacing Wright is similar to replacing Jackson, who also served as a chief for many years.
“That’s why we needed the clarification as to whether we could do that for the police chief’s job as well, since we hadn’t gone through that department’s replacement process for many years,” she said.
Sutherland said she’s ready for the next steps in the process.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the results of the written portion of the exam and the evaluation of the other oral examination parts,” she said. ‘That will be valuable information to the overall process.”
She said she’s glad to have strong candidates seeking the job.
“I know all four candidates and they all have been fine officers who have done good work for the city,” she said. “I’m glad I’ll have a tough decision to make because it means we will be getting a good chief for our department and the community.”
Sutherland said she can’t say exactly when she will be able to make the final decision.
“It will depend on when they get the test results back to the city and then how those results turn out will play a role in what I decide,” she said. “I’ll make the fairest decision I can.”
The civil service commission selected the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police to help devise and administer the written and oral exams for the candidates.
Holliday said he and the other candidates, will be preparing for the exam. In setting the test date, the candidates had to have at least a 30-day period to study for the exam.
“We have four highly-qualified candidates and there is no front-runner among the group,” he said.
The other candidates could not be reached for comment.