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City Adds Forums For Police Chief Search But Critics Not Satisfied

City Adds Forums For Police Chief Search But Critics Not Satisfied
City Adds Forums For Police Chief Search But Critics Not Satisfied GUEST: Katie Keach, director of communications, City of San Diego

I am Maureen Cavanaugh, it is Thursday, August 31. Our top story I midday edition, the search for a new San Diego police chief has not begun yet and it is already faced its first controversy. The city announced yesterday that it has expanded its schedule of public meetings to get input from various communities. Instead of only four meetings there are now six meetings planned through October. There are still three city Council districts with no meetings scheduled. The city's plant confidential interview process for police chief candidates is also attracting criticism. Joining me is Katie Keech. Katie, welcome.Thank you so much.The added two more community meetings, one in city Heights and one in Santa Cedro, was that in response to organizations like the ACLU?It was more about our focus on getting community input. We have a pretty short timeline to get all of that input before we start the actual recruitment process to make sure that recruitment reflects the community input. Trying to balance a lot of community meetings that are already schedules, the people might want to attend, we found room in the schedule to add two more. We are happy to be able to do that.There still not any hearings in districts two, five, seven, why not have nine hearings? You could have one in each of the city Council districts as some people have recommended.Our focus is to provide locations and scheduling that would allow for the greatest number of people to participate. The locations are focused on transit access and the timing that we have made sure they are all in the evening or on the weekend this allows for the greatest input.Is it possible that we might see the list of public meetings on the police chief selection expand?I do not believe that is the plan at this time. You never know.What kind of information are you hoping to get from these public meetings? How will that input be used in the search?We are hoping for honest feedback from the community, what do they want to see in their next police chief. Is this going to be someone who has a certain number of years of experience? Is it someone who is focused on community policing? Is it someone who is multilingual, is it someone who is a current San Diego police officer? We are looking for input which will inform the entire process. While we are bringing in an executive recruiting firm who will help coordinate the whole process, what we foresee is that this input will be part of the development of the recruitment materials. It might help us on certain parts of our country or certain departments that have those qualities. It will also help us review and evaluate the applications that we get and help determine who will be moving through the interview process, it will be used also, to develop the interview questions, and of course, the mayor and council will consider it as they both select and confirm the selected candidate.There's going to be an online survey as well that people can participate in?Correct, that will be in development with the executive recruiting firm. That will launch the same time as the forms.What is the mayor looking for?The mayor is hoping for the community to give him their parameters of what he is looking for. I think that will be born out throughout the selection process which, will be informed by the community. The otherAt the main criticism has been that the committee that will select this will not be public. The city will not be releasing the names of the members of the selection committee what is the rationale behind that choice?There is no secret panel selecting the next police chief, the charter is clear, it will be selected by the mayor and confirmed by the city Council, that is the opposite of a secret panel. As far as the interview process, we look forward to informed the whole process and we are still looking out details on what the multiple round interview process will look like. We can confirm that there will be recommendations.There will be a group of people who conducted the interviews with the candidates for police chief?Again, we have not determined the full interview process, there will be multiple rounds, the panelists have not been chosen, the process has not been determined.The city is our I was -- it was my understanding that those people were already decided, is that the city's plan?This allows for this to be on candidates not on compromising interviewers. What we have understood from our resistor -- research is that there have been attempts of lobbing potential who are on the committee. This could happen both for and against candidates. To really keep the focus on the goal of getting the right candidate, we feel it will be less likely to be compromised if we do not divulge that information.The candidates will know who is viewing them? They will have that information if they personally wanted to lobby anyone on the interview panel?Once they are interviewed, correct. Is this largely because you do not want outside groups to lobby the people who are on the interview panel about one candidate over another?Any focus we should be on the interview the.This was chosen because it is the best practice,, it seems to us, and doing our research that a lot of cities are now choosing to make the interviewers public, the people who are on this panel, cities like Oakland, the group midcity can says that Seattle and Phoenix also public committees? Since it all sounds so undecided, at this point, is this the way that you ultimately go?Once we have the executive recruiting firm onboard and they can provide more their expertise, I think that will be easier to answer.Shelley Zimmerman is retiring, what is the timeline for this new chief to be selected? The timeline we have posted on San Diego.govThe first focus will be the recruitment and then forums this is the biggest step. That will go through mid October with the forums and the online survey. They will use that to provide recruitment materials and then the interview process will happen in December.I have been talking with Katie Keech, director of public relations, thank you so much.Thank you. [ music ]

City of San Diego officials released Wednesday a revised schedule of public meetings designed to get input on its national search to replace retiring Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman. The change comes after community and legal groups last week criticized the city’s initial plan because they said it was not inclusive enough and lacked transparency.

RELATED: Community Input Questioned As San Diego Searches For New Police Chief

The city’s revised community forum schedule includes two additional meetings in City Heights and San Ysidro, as the groups called for.

"The police chief serves all of San Diego so we want everyone to have a chance to participate in the selection process," Mayor Kevin Faulconer said in a statement. "I am encouraging San Diegans to attend these community forums so the public's voice is heard."

However, the city did not reverse its plans to use a confidential panel to conduct candidate interviews, which the organizations also opposed.

Sean Elo of the City Height-based Mid City Community Advocacy Network, a coalition member, said adding forums is a step in the right direction but the unidentified panel is not.

“We actually have to do everything we can to build community-police trust and relationships and a secret panel is not the way to do that," said Elo, an associate director for the organization with a focus on the nonprofit’s campaign and policy work.

Mid City CAN's Sean Elo discusses with KPBS City Heights Reporter Tarryn Mento the youth council's draft proposed timeline for the city's national police chief search, Aug. 30, 2017.
Katie Schoolov
Mid City CAN's Sean Elo discusses with KPBS City Heights Reporter Tarryn Mento the youth council's draft proposed timeline for the city's national police chief search, Aug. 30, 2017.

Elo said Mid City CAN will continue to push for a public panel that includes community members, youths and chairs of specific city commissions. He said the group’s youth council members proposed the panel make-up after reviewing community-led police chief hiring procedures in other cities, including Seattle and Phoenix.

The coalition of groups includes American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego and Imperial Counties, Alliance San Diego, CAST, San Diego LGBT Community Center, Center for Policy Initiatives, Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association, San Diego La Raza Bar Association and San Diego Organizing Project.

City Councilwoman Georgette Gomez, whose district includes City Heights, said in statement Wednesday she also supports a public interview process.

“While I am happy to see more community forums are being planned, the Police Chief is the top law enforcement officer in the City of San Diego and our residents have the right to know who the candidates and decision makers are in every step of the process,” the first-term councilwoman said in a news release.

RELATED: Council Members Join Criticism Of San Diego Police Chief Selection Plan

City of San Diego Spokeswoman Katie Keach said the city reviewed the police chief recruitment process in nine other cities to inform its plans for a confidential selection panel.

“The City is following industry best practices to ensure confidentiality for the candidates and the members who will serve on the selection panel,” Keach said in an email. “This is done to make sure that candidates themselves do not lobby the panel members and that the privacy of panel members is respected.”

Keach also pointed to a Wednesday memo from Chief Operating Officer Scott Chadwick notifying council of the revised forum schedule that said, “we can confirm that the input and recommendations of community stakeholders will advise the final candidate selection."

An online survey is scheduled to launch next month online.

City officials said they plan to hire an executive recruiting firm next month. They envision conducting interviews in December and January, and hope that Faulconer can make a selection by the end of January.

The City Council would vote on confirmation in February, according to the schedule.

–Sept. 23, Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation, 404 Euclid Ave., 1 p.m.

–Sept. 26, Mira Mesa Senior Center, 8460 Mira Mesa Blvd., 6 p.m.

–Sept. 28, San Diego LGBT Center, 3909 Centre St., 6 p.m.

–Oct. 4, City Heights Recreation Center, 4380 Landis St., 6 p.m.

–Oct. 5, Standley Recreation Center, 3585 Governor Dr., 6 p.m.

–Oct. 10, Col. Irving Salomon San Ysidro Community Activity Center, 179 Diza Rd., 6 p.m.