By Jeff Gallatin
Mayor Debbie Sutherland will be able to pick the new police chief from among the top three scorers on the exam being given later this year.
Bay Village’s Civil Service Commission clarified that Sutherland will be able to utilize the same method of picking a new police chief that she did in selecting the last two fire chiefs, when she was able to pick from among the top three scorers on the civil service chief’s exam. Longtime police Chief Dave Wright’s resignation several weeks ago to head up the uniformed police portion of the Cleveland Clinic’s security division prompted the need for a new chief. Afterward, Bay Village executive officer Lt. Calvin Holliday was made acting chief.
Civil Service Commission board members said letting the mayor pick from the top three scorers from a test has worked well for the city previously. They said it allows a mayor to consider all factors, not just a test score. Allowing the mayor to pick from the top three scorers for a safety force first came into play when Jim Sammon was selected as fire chief in 2006, replacing longtime Chief Greg Jackson. Then, when Sammon retired in 2010, current fire Chief Chris Lyons was selected by Sutherland to become the new chief.
Sutherland noted that picking a new police chief is new for her.
“This was uncharted territory for us in terms of picking the new police chief,” Sutherland said. “Chief Wright did a good job for us for many years.”
Wright became 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 longtime member.
Sutherland said the selection system gives the mayor more flexibility.
“You can consider different areas such as whether some people might not be as a good a test taker as other people, but still have good overall skills for the job, how well they work with other people both in the department, the citizens and other areas of government,” she said.
She said the city did consider petitioning to not have to give a test since all four of the police department lieutenants are veteran officers and already well-known to officials. However, since all four have indicated they plan to be candidates and be a part of the testing process, they were asked about the written test, with two of the four candidates formally asking that there be an exam.
“We would have had to have all four candidates agree to not have a formal exam to have had the chance to consider that option,” she said.
She said when the new chief is selected will depend on the date selected by the commission to give the test.
“They have to factor in a minimum 30-day study period for the candidates and then settle on a date with the testing firm.”
The Civil Service Commission also selected the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police to help devise and administer written and oral tests for the candidates. The scores from those will be compiled and given to the mayor, who then can make the selection.
Currently, Holliday is acting chief for up to 90 days. However, Sutherland noted, that can be extended if the need arises by petitioning the Civil Service Commission.