Commission to start chief of police selection process
Grand Coulee’s Civil Service Commission will begin work soon to hire a new police chief.
That task was handed to them as the result of a memo from Mayor Chris Christopherson on advice from the city’s attorney.
The commission took quick action Monday evening and scheduled a special meeting of the commission for Monday, Aug. 11, at 5:30 p.m. in the city council chambers.
“The public is invited,” Chairman Alan Cain stated.
At that meeting, the commission will come up with the qualifications they will seek in a new chief so advertisements on the opening can be posted.
City Councilmember David Tylor stated that if a college degree was required, it should be in a pertinent area, not in something like “English literature.”
The room Monday night had a number of police officers there, as well as Chief Mel Hunt, who has indicated that he will retire Oct. 1 after over 30 years on the job.
“If the city doesn’t do something on my health insurance, I just might withdraw my retirement,” the chief stated, drawing laughs from the audience.
The mayor had stated in his memo that the salary for a new chief would be between $6,200 and $7,200 a month, depending on qualifications.
That brought a response from one person who said that would make the chief the lowest paid person in the department. Officers often make more than that due to the overtime they acquire.
“It looks like the mayor plans to hire a part-time chief at that salary,” commented Councilmember Tylor. “The council has to pay the bills,” he added, suggesting that the council might have something to say about the salary range.
When the commission chair asked for public comment, Becky Billups said that the mayor should not be able to appoint the police chief. That put too much power in the hands of one person, she reasoned.
Resident Jerry Beierman agreed. Beierman was on the oral board when Hunt was hired in the 1970s.
“Our present mayor has been watching Obama too much,” he said. “No one should have that much power.”
Many in the audience feared that it was the mayor’s plan to make the appointment outside of the CSC.
Officer Sean Cook thanked the commission members for their position on moving forward on selecting the chief.
“You have been put in an awkward position getting started so late, don’t hurry and take your time,” he said.
When asked what kind of burden the late start would put on the police department, Hunt said Sgt. John Tufts would be acting chief during the selection time.
“Don’t try to make everyone happy,” Beierman advised. “The good Lord couldn’t. Take your tiime and do it right.”
“Don’t let the council or mayor muddy up the process,” said Officer Gary Moore.
That prompted Hunt to say Moore would be a good candidate to become police chief in Electric City. Moore replied, “No!”
Cain assured the audience that the Civil Service Commission planned to be deliberative and “do it right.”