Police chief search process comes under fire

Ever since selectmen first started talking about finding a permanent police chief to replace the late William Webber, they’ve said that Interim Chief Jane Moran would automatically be a finalist should she choose to apply for the position. That decision came under fire last night, in an exchange that got pretty heated.

Chairman of the Personnel Board Stephen Morreale said granting Moran an automatic spot as a finalist would give her an unfair advantage. “The perception on the outside is it’s a done deal,” he said.

Morreale told selectmen that perception would dissuade other candidates from coming forward. “it’s a closed field when you do this.”

But Board of Selectmen Chairman Sal Giorlandino said it would be unfair if Moran was not automatically made a finalist given her history and experience. Moran has been with the Southborough Police Department for 28 years. She was appointed interim chief last December, and has indicated she will apply for the position as permanent chief.

Just because she will automatically become a finalist “doesn’t mean she’ll get the job,” Giorlandino said. “She has to appear for an interview along with everyone else.”

“This is not about (Chief Moran),” Morreale said. “It’s about fairness and transparency, and your definition of fairness must be different than mine.”

The exchange between Morreale and Giorlandino was heated throughout with each interrupting the other, and Giorlandino saying he was “perturbed” by Morreale’s comments. “It’s a Board of Selectmen decision, not a Personnel Board decision. Let’s just get that on the table,” Giorlandino told Morreale.

Selectwoman Bonnie Phaneuf agreed that Moran should get an automatic spot on the finalist list because she’s been running the department since Chief Webber became too ill to do so. Further, Phaneuf said any member of the police department who applies for the position and meets the requirements set out by the board would automatically become a finalist.

Giorlandino defended the search committee process as a fair one. “I’m not looking for yes-people on this committee. I’m looking for people who give a damn.”

Selectmen interviewed candidates for the search committee at their meeting last night. They’ll make decisions on who to appoint to the 7-member committee at their meeting next week.

For more information on Southborough’s search for a new police chief, click here.

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13 years ago

I completely disagree with Mr. Morreale.

Any applicant who cannot understand why the acting police chief would be given the courtesy of advancing to the final stage of the selection process is not someone we would want applying for the position. Likewise, anyone who would be intimidated by the fact that the acting chief will be advanced, is not someone who should be applying either.

Come on people, this makes perfect sense and is not something we should be fighting with the Selectmen about.

As for fairness, I consider the courtesy of advancing Chief Moran to the final stage, more than appropriate return for her 28 years of service to this town and her many months of acting as chief on our behalf.

13 years ago

Totally disagree w/ Mr. Morreale. Chief Moran should automatically be considered for the position. It’s too bad we even have to go threw this process of forming a committee as she should be the new chief hands down.

13 years ago


13 years ago

This search committee nonsense is a waste of time and money. We’re a small town with mostly small town problems and we already have an interim police chief that is vastly qualified for the job. If there are additional internal candidates that would like to be considered that’s fine. This shouldn’t be a complicated process. Why do we need to conduct a “search” for search committee members, who will then be interviewed to make up a final search committee, who will then search for candidates to interview, before finally selecting the very qualified woman who has already been doing the job? I guess because we have a board of selectman that would rather bicker over the details of the process than make an executive decision.

Seymour Goode
13 years ago

Seems to me we don’t have the right person as Chair of the Personnel Board. Might he just be a tad anti-feminist – I somehow do not think this would be his attitude/stand if the Acting Chief had been a male.

You know, many in town know Jane Moran after all these years and know what an upstanding, principled and qualified candidate she is. She’s got my vote of confidence!

13 years ago

In this economy, why should we be wasting thousands of dollars to form a “committee” to “search” for a new Chief of Police? The Town’s budget is getting nipped & tucked all over, some areas more than others, and this just seems like a TOTAL WASTE of tax payer money. Where is the money coming from to pay for this search?

Jane Moran is the Interim Chief, and intends to go for the position of Chief. “She’s been running the department since Chief Webber became too ill to do so.” She’s already doing the job people! Just give her the position, which she deserves, and save everybody’s time & money! SHEESH!!

13 years ago

Boy, hot times in the old town tonight! Please wake me up when this is over.

Richard F. Tibert
13 years ago

By the time this process is over, Jane Moran will have served as Chief for close
to a year. The Selectmen will then be hard-pressed to justify passing her over
in favor of someone unknown to the operation of our police dept., regardless
of fancy credentials.

13 years ago

Any Search committee for our next Police Chief is a waste of time and effort. Interim Chief Jane Moran is qualifed. AppointmentJust ask the majority of the fine members of our wonderful police dept. She has a great staff.

I have a grave concern about certain search committee potential members:
One of the potential search committee candidates has been given false information and was also out of line when speaking about the PD.

There are other potential candidates who have NO CLUE how a Police Department should be operated.

Additionally, The Fire Chief needs to worry about his Dept.

Matthew Brownell
13 years ago

Since when does tenure and acting as an interim placeholder automatically qualify a person as a “finalist” for the next step up the ladder?

Perhaps this plays in a union environment, or within political patronage positions and civil service jobs, but it sure rings sour for any merit-based system based on performance and documented qualifications.

If Interim Chief Jane Moran would like to compete for the position, by all means, she should have at it along with the entire roster of potential candidates. But the thought of any employee being anointed as an “automatic finalist” in any enterprise smacks of the very same type perverse Social Equality Engineering that has brought cancer to everything from college admissions, to awards for government contracts and distribution of federal matching grants.

Opposition to this type of “automatic finalist” candidacy does not make one “intimidated” or “anti-feminist” , as a couple of the posts above suggest. Rather, we demand merit-based factors and documented, superior performance in the candidate weightings, rather than the duration for which someone warms a seat.

Richard F. Tibert
13 years ago

One of the questions asked of the search committee candidates was, in so many words “How familiar are you with the operation of our police department?” The answers of all were minimal at best. So now I wonder what will be the quality of the questions asked by the selected seven when
interviewing the applicants for the Chief’s position. One really needs to have
the expertise with the subject on hand before recommending a canditate to
to the Selectmen. I don’t think any one of the candidates has that expertise.
This search committee, if necessary at all, should be solely members of our
police department. They are the ONLY ones with the necessary expertise.
The Selectmen, perhaps inadvertently, have dug themselves a hole with this.

13 years ago

I am blown away by some of these postings. Why not take a look outside Southboro to see if we can find a great Chief? Just because Jane has been employed by the SPD for 28 years does not automatically make her a good acting chief nor does it make her a bad acting chief.

There is a huge pool of potential candidates. Let’s hope they pick the person who will do the most to keep our town safe.

Hat’s off to the people who have stepped up to volunteer for this committee. It’s great to see democracy in action, although sometimes it is a bit noisy!

Also, lets be glad we had come applicants who were candid. This selection should be open and fair. The selectmen had the right/option to just pick someone to be the new Chief and they chose to get input from the citizens of Southborough. That’s great. Let’s let the process work.

13 years ago

It is interesting to me that the Chairman of the Personnel Board qpparently does not think any person in the Southboro Police has the ability to advance When there was a position of Lieutenent in the Police Department (which was never filled) put into the Salary Administration Plan the Personnel Board publicly stated that the town should go outside the department to fill it. The Personnel Board should mind there own business

13 years ago

“The Personnel Board should mind their business?” Are you kidding me? That is exactly why they were established. The police department should be run as efficiently, effectively ans safely as possible. What part of professionalism do you not understand?

How in the world can you even suggest the police should pick their boss? Why don’t you just identify yourself as the union rep and let’s get this out in the open now.

For that matter, why don;t the selectmen admit this is all a bag job for Acting Chief Moran? They plan to require all applicants to line in adjoining towns (Jane lives in Hopkinton) and they are low-balling the salary so they don’t get many qualified applicants.


Sal- if you really want Jane as the Chief, just appoint her and get this over with! Stop the charade!

*Note: A portion of this comment was deleted by the moderator

13 years ago

It was sad to see the Board of Selectmen did not appoint someone from the Personnel Board to the police search committee. The committee is stacked with people the board “can count on.” What a farce.

We will deserve what we get.

13 years ago

As a resident, I am impressed with the efficiency of the Board of Selectmen in the process of selecting a new Police Chief. Numerous pronouncements that the Interim Chief would be an automatic finalist will certainly reduce the pool of applicants, which will speed up the selection process. Using seniority as the primary tool from which to move someone into an “automatic finalist” pool will allow the selection committee limited discretion and again speed up the process. Finally, in appointing a committee without any law enforcement on it will ensure that the committee will not be bogged down by the details of understanding an applicant’s background. Certainly in these financially challenging times, creating a process where performance and qualifications take a back seat to seniority and politics and by excluding of the personnel board. we can rest assured that our Board is repesenting us well.

13 years ago

I had to read William’s post twice before I caught the irony in his post. Bravo!

Our Board of Selectmen have let us down. How can they chose such a committee and not select at least one of the two residents who each had more than 25 years of law enforcement experience? One is a professor of criminal justice! One very nice gentleman was was selected (and I am very sincere – he is a very nice guy) is a letter carrier. Is it just me, or wouldn’t we be better served by a selecting one of the law enforcement professionals who applied?

Yikes! Thank God the BOS doesn’t make many major decisions. Can you imagine if they had to make all the decision that were made for the ARHS renovation? We’d still be waiting for the ground breaking.

Way to go Sal, Bill and Bonnie. You really made us proud.

13 years ago

Did the BOS appoint a search committee when looking for a Town Adminstrator?
Did they appoint a committee when looking to hire a new Fire Chief?
Did the BOS appoint a search committee when looking to hire DPW Superintendant?
The answers are NO to each.

Did any surrounding town or city, besides Northborough, hire someone from outside the Police Dept when looking for a Police Chief. Again, NO.

Why has this become so contentious with lines drawn in the sand?
Of course Interim Chief Moran will follow all the required interviews and processses and has said that from the beginning.

Why did it take the BOS this long to move forward?

13 years ago

Marty, again, did you bother to attend the meetings and interviews? Are you basing your opinion on anything more than the brief bios published by the media?

13 years ago

I’m confused how someone who has filed numorous lawsuits against the town gets an automatic shot at being a finalist.

13 years ago


You have hit the nail on the head. The “pink elephant” in the room during this whole seletion debacle has been the fear of lawsuits.

On another note, I cannot believe the arrogance that Sal has displayed during the Selectmen’s meetings. His treatment of Roger Chalen was dispicable. Sal should take a lesson from the gentlemanly manner that former town moderator John Wilson displayed during contentious town meetings.

Memo to Sal – you are just an elected member of the board of selectmen. Don’t conduct yourself as if you have been appointed emperor! Take a hint from someone who now regrets voting for you.

13 years ago


Get your facts straight 1 law suit and only 1 was filed and I must say if the things that were said her and done to her was said to your wife or girlfriend you would understand the suit again get your facts straight

13 years ago

I have enjoyed sitting on the sidelines and watching the sparks fly to and fro!

I do feel the need to comment on Mr. Giorlandino “taking exception” to a blog comment re the committee makeup vis-a-vis the absence of members with a law enforcement background despite the canadicy of two such persons, each with more than twenty years of law enforcement experience.

If this interview process was geared towards hiring the director of a hospital, it would be unthinkable not to have a nurse or doctor on the interview committee.

I know and respect John Rooney. He is a fine choice for the committee. But, as a fellow attorney, Mr. Giorlandino should certainly understand that John’s experience as an assistant district attorney is quite a bit different than being a law enforcement officer. The board of selectmen should have appointed someone with law enforcement experience along with John Rooney.

Because of the reckless mandate that Sgt. Jane Moran be an automatic finalist, it is absurd to postulate that this will not adversely impact the quality and depth of applicants.

Sgt. Moran was selected to be the Acting Chief simply because she was the Sgt. with the most seniority. I would love to hear Mr. Giorlandino explain how he equates seniority with competence.

The first sad aspect of this soap opera is that when Sgt. Jane Moran is appointed Chief, her appointment will be crippled by the suspicion that she was selected because of her gender rather than her competence. That is unfair to Sgt. Moran and it is unfair to the town of Southborough.

The second sad aspect of this soap opera is the disrespectful manner in which Mr. Giorlandino has carried himself. His disdain for the advice and opinion presented in a calm and measured manner by former Selectmen Roger Chalen was ignorant at best. His scorn for the opinion presented by the Board of Selectmen appointed Personnel Committee was insensible.

Over the years, we have had some colorful characters on the Board of Selectmen. We have also had many sincere, articulate, fair and polite Selectmen. Mr. Giorlandino only needs to look to the two Selectmen to his right to see examples of such people.

A bit of advice: Learn to disagree without being disagreeable.

Richard F. Tibert
13 years ago

Sooner or later it was bound to happen with this cornball blogging outlet, and it is very unfortunate indeed.
Arrogance, despicable, disrespectful, insensible, appointed emperor,disdain and scorn for advice and opinion, etc., etc. — all directed at the chairman of the BOS by people who lack the courage to adequately identify themselves,
and sign off as comic strip characters. This is known in the trade as throwing
insults and cheap shots.
Admittedly, I have been opposed to the search process as such, and I have been a bit voicy about it with letters to the BOS and Metrowest Daily News.
And with sincere interest I have been attending all BOS meetings with this
subject on the agenda. And so it is with complete disbelief and SADNESS that
I see the likes of the above insults written about the chairman. I was there,
and did not witness anything of this extent.
I have been very impressed with his calm and methodic command of the
meetings. He even throws in a bit of down home humor for good measure.
And, as chairman, he has every right in the world to ask for complete clarification of comments and questions from the floor before responding, even
at the risk of bending some overly sensitive noses out of joint.
If the truth be known, most of the above lacerations really apply to those of
you bloggers who are too chicken to identify yourselves. If you were really
authentic you would apologize to Sal and sign your full name.

13 years ago

The attacks on Sal are misplaced and without merit. The BOS could have simply appointed a Chief without asking for any input from a search committee. From the meetings I attended, the committee is to make recommendations to the BOS which may or may not include a recommendation of interim Chief Moran. At a minimum, because of her long service to the Town, the BOS are simply recognizing her efforts and dedication.

All I know about the backgrounds of the committee members is based upon what I heard at the meetings I attended. I do not think it fair at all for anyone to attack someone’s creditials based upon the fact that their life experiences are varied and different. For those that are concerned about the committee’s lack of “criminal experience”, I did hear that Mr. Rooney, in addition to being a former assistant district attorney, grew up in a house with a father who was a police officer, and even a police chief, for over thirty years. That type of experience should prove helpful when evaluating a candidate’s committment, ability and character. Appointing someone with current law enforcement background, howver, would have been a good idea and would have quieted the concerns voiced by others.

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