MWDN: Lt. James back in running for Police Chief, recruitment consultant quits

Above: Lt. Sean James fields questions from the community at a meeting last year advising residents on ways to reduce risk of home break-ins (Photo by Susan Fitzgerald)

Last month, Selectmen requested feedback from the community about what they want in a police chief. Around the same time, rumors floated that the Lt. Sean James had been informed he would not be considered a candidate.

This prompted a a ground-roots campaign to support Lt. James, including a sign at Eagle Leasing supporting the candidate.

Now The Metrowest Daily News is reporting that the candidate is back in the running.

Candidates were scheduled to do assessment testing on December 5th. On December 4th, in an emergency session, the Search Committee voted to allow Lt. James take the place of a candidate who withdrew. The committee’s recruitment consultant promptly resigned:

Former Waltham Police Chief and BadgeQuest Director Stephen Unsworth Tuesday cited “philosophical differences” with the Police Chief Search Committee as his reason for withdrawing a day before he was to conduct a day-long test to help determine final candidates.

Unsworth said he has conducted as many as 80 such tests, called “assessment centers,” but this marks the first time he has ever parted ways with a city or town.

Candidate evaluation has now been postponed to January 3rd, with a new consultant.

Some supporters of Lt. James conjectured that selectmen were trying to avoid promoting from within the police department. The Search Commitee and selectmen rejected that charge:

Search Committee Chairman Russell Millholland said Tuesday that selectmen gave them no directive other than to find the best candidates. He noted that the committee received nearly 50 resumes, many from well qualified applicants.

Selectmen Chairman Daniel Kolenda and Selectman Bill Boland said Tuesday they do not have any preconceived notions heading into the search.

“I believe in the process, and it appears some people are trying to disrupt the process by spreading rumors,” said Boland. “I’ll vote for whoever comes forward who I feel is the best candidate.”

For the full MWDN story, click here.

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9 years ago

Sounds like a few do not want the best candidate and have corrupted the process. Watershed moment for the Town. Should the best candidate be Chief or should politics trump competence ?

9 years ago

Glad to hear that Lt. James will be given the opportunity he has earned.

Just Curious
9 years ago

Publius is right on the money. Let the Committee do their job.

All the former elected officials who had their chance to govern and lead during the last Police Chief search should stay out of this. If I recall correctly, that last Police Chief search didn’t turn out so well. I’ll be the guy in the Santa outfit at Pizzeria Uno if anyone wants to meet and discuss this some more:)

Mike Fuce
9 years ago

Sounds like an insider company like Badge quest has an-agenda maybe? No doubt they will bring a good candidate from the “system”, but will they bring the best candidate for Southboro? I don’t think so. Lt. James seems like a great “home grown” candidate to me. No knock on Badgequest, but consultants are not always totally unbiased and the best way to go.

Mark Ford
9 years ago

Oh brother! Can this town do ANYTHING right? Add Unsworth’s resignation to a growing list of gaffes and missteps by employees, consultants, and volunteers alike. Why was Lt. James kept off the list, and why was adding him back on cause for such a reaction from a (paid!) outside consultant? What is BadgeQuest’s reputation, and why did we hire that company specifically in the first place? I don’t know any of the candidates for the job, btw, but clearly something’s amiss.

9 years ago

This is the BEST news for the town. I fully support Lt. James as the best person for the job. We should be able to choose who is hired and not some outside committee who thinks they know what is best for us.

9 years ago

I would also like to know more about this. I know nothing about Lt James, but can’t help wondering why he was eliminated for consideration in the first place. I assume the search consultant was given a set of criteria to use to evaluate candidates. Did Lt. James not meet some of the criteria? If this is the case, I’m not surprised the consultant quit when it became apparent that some individuals were looking for a certain outcome whether or not it was supported by the defined process.

A grass roots campaign should have no role in who is hired to be police chief. This is not an elected position that you get by popular vote. We should hire the best person for the job, not the person who has the most friends in town.

9 years ago

Just Curious

I don’t know what you mean the last Police Chief search didn’t turn out so well

I don’t know how well you are connected to the Southboro Police Dept
but Chief Moran had the best Police Department in the last 20 years
She employed many young educated Police Officers and they are top officers Have some pizza at Uno’s Santa

Al Hamilton
9 years ago

Hiring from within a department has it’s advantages and disadvantages.

On the plus side, an internal candidate is going to be very familiar with the community and the way things are done now. They are likely to be a more or less known commodity.

On the flip side, public sector employment is characterized by employees working for a much, much, longer in an organization that is common in the private sector. As a result there is far less exposure to different ways of doing business than there is in the private sector. There is substantial merit in bringing someone in from the outside who might challenge old ways of doing business. Southborough is not immune from being “set in its ways”.

It seems to me that the town would benefit from appointing department heads about half the time from internal candidates and the other half from the outside.

I have no dog in this fight, but I am absolutely certain that we need the services that Badgequest was going to provide. Hiring decisions of this sort are some of the most important decisions that our government makes and it is important to do the best job possible. That includes getting expert advice and assistance in evaluating candidates.

Finally, we need to recognize that under the new TA by law it is the responsibility of the TA to recommend a candidate to the BOS for their approval (or disapproval). Any committee that is appointed to help find a new Chief is there to assist the TA in his/her recommendation.

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