Open search for new Roanoke City Police Chief

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ROANOKE (WSLS10)-- The search is on for a new Roanoke City Police Chief after former chief, Chris Perkins, retired earlier this year. Rather than hiring a recruitment firm to find a replacement, the City of Roanoke is handling the job search and hiring process itself.

City Manager, Chris Morrill, says he's not taking this decision lightly. He knows how much people in Roanoke City care about who the police chief is, so he's really taking his time to find the best candidates for the job.

Instead of using a national agency, the city is covering the hiring process itself-- taking care of everything from posting the job online and in local newspapers to the interview and final hiring phase.

Morrill says cutting out the middle man gives city leaders a better chance to hear from the community members on what they want in a new chief.

"We can really spend some time to figure out, what are the qualities we're looking for," says Morrill. "So I've met with all of the command staff at the police department and gotten their input. I've talked to some neighborhood leaders, so we're really building that profile as we go along."

And with the former chief leaving the department in such a strong position, he says there's no rush to find a replacement.

"I need someone who can come in and build off a successful department," he says. "It's a different skill than if you have a department that's not functioning well, you hire a different kind of leader. We need someone who can build off and bring us to an even higher level than we are now."

Some major qualities include: patrol experience in different types of neighborhoods, like a mix of public housing, urban and suburban settings; experience with mental health and its impact on crime; and commercial and white collar experience.

Often times, when a position like this opens up, cities or counties hire a recruitment firm to find a replacement. Morrill tells me there are several reasons the City is handling the hiring process itself.

One major reason is to save money. Typically it costs about $18,000 to $20,000 to hire a recruitment firm, but if the City handles the hiring process itself, there are no additional costs. The people who are posting the job requirements and conducting the interviews are already on the payroll.

This is the same process that was used six years ago, when former Chief, Chris Perkins, was hired. There were 75-80 applicants from around the nation and within the Roanoke City Police Department. City leaders are hoping the process will be just as successful this time around.

"Where I think we have some really strong internal candidates," says Morrill. "We're doing our own search rather than hiring a firm. I don't need people out there beating the bushes. Where I think Roanoke has a good national reputation with policing, I think we're going to get a lot of great candidates. I don't need someone encouraging people to apply, we're going to get a lot of great people to apply anyway."

There's currently a national advertisement for the job that will be running for the next six weeks. The city is also looking at internal candidates for the position. Candidates will be screened and narrowed down for interviews by mid-May.In June and July, the top three to five candidates will be brought in and questioned by an internal panel and a citizens panel. We can expect a new police chief to be named by mid-to-late summer.