Choosing a New Police Chief

The search for a new South Milwaukee police chief is officially underway.

The Police and Fire Commission approved advertising the position at its meeting last week. You can see the advertisement here.

The goal, in working with McGrath Consulting Group, is to have a final group of candidates in for testing and interviews in late October, and a new chief chosen and in place by early January. Current Chief Ann Wellens is retiring effective Jan. 19.

Chief Wellens leaves big shoes to fill, but I’m confident we will find the right leader for this department going forward, in large part because we have the right process in place, and the right people making the decision. The mayor and council are purposely kept out of this apolitical selection process. Instead, my and our job is in many ways done — naming good, talented people to the Police and Fire Commission who are committed to doing what’s best for our community.

With that in mind, I thank Beth Blackwood, Heather Page, Rick Borowski, Kate Bernovich and Dr. Darrell Francis for their service, and wish them well in filling this critical role.


Filed under South Milwaukee

7 responses to “Choosing a New Police Chief

  1. Tom

    We are having a referendum in November on Public Safety spending. How much is this consulting firm costing the city?

  2. Less than $11,000, and I believe it’s money incredibly well spent, to ensure we’re following best practices in seeking and hiring our next chief. This is a well-respected firm led by former law enforcement leaders who will deliver significant value in working with the Police & Fire Commission and others. This will come first through advertising the role and then, more importantly, assessing candidates, to ensure the PFC has the best of the best to choose from. I would not want the city undertaking this critical process without such expert outside support.

  3. Rocandroo

    Why are we spending money we don’t have on another consulting firm? No current police officers want to be promoted to chief? Seems like another waste of tax dollars.

  4. Tom

    I can’t hear you Eric. Are my questions too difficult?

    • Please check sarcasm at the door. I was about to reply; I needed to track down some information. We used a consultant to hire our police and fire chiefs in 2004. We didn’t when we chose our current fire chief in 2012.

      Even though I’m a huge fan of Chief Knitter and that ended up being a terrific hire, if I was mayor then I would have advocated for use of a consultant. In fact, I will always advocate for outside support in hiring critical positions like this — it helps ensure we get this right. We don’t have a HR function in city government, so the expertise these third parties provide is invaluable. They also do a lot of the important pre-work to ensure we get the strongest candidates.

      You trust us to be responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars. This is a great example of that.

      • Tom

        There is no one more qualified to be Fire Chief than Joe Knitter. He should have been promoted when Behling was elevated to Chief. I’m sure the city wouldn’t have encountered the same problems it did when Behling was Chief.

        I’m not sure we have anyone qualified to be Chief within our Police Department. A consulting firm may be the best alternative. However, the spending at a time when the city is looking for funds concerns me.

        We’ll see what happens in January,

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