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Leadership, media relations top police chief wish list

June 15, 1999|By DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

The next Hagerstown Police Chief should lead by example, earn the respect of the officers and unify the city police department.

The chief also should have some political savvy and establish better communications with the media, according to City Council members discussing what they would like to see in the next chief.

On Tuesday the Mayor and City Council met with Kim J. Kohlhepp, manager of the center for testing and executive search for the International Association of Chiefs of Police in Alexandria, Va.

The mayor and council members have agreed to hire the association to help them find candidates to replace former Chief Dale J. Jones, who resigned last month to take a position with the U.S. Commerce Department.

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Councilman William M. Breichner said the new chief should be able to unify the department and "be able to get the officers behind him."

He said the next chief needs to have some political ability to deal with the mayor and council, residents, and county officials.

Breichner also said they should be able to work with the media.

"To be able to handle the media and give it what it needs. Now there's a tendency not to say anything," Breichner said.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said he agreed with Breichner that the next chief should unify the department.

Metzner also said that a new chief should improve communication with the media.

"Someone who has a policy of openness," he said.

Metzner said the new chief should be well educated, with a bachelor's degree and possibly a master's degree.

And the successful candidate would have been an outstanding beat officer, he said.

The chief should also know that the job is "not to catch criminals but to protect the public," Metzner said.

Councilwoman Susan Saum-Wicklein said the chief should be someone who leads by example and faces challenges head-on.

"It's more than an administrative position," she said, adding that the next chief should be able to do good police work on the street.

Saum-Wicklein said that the department may need to make one officer the designated media relations officer. That person would be trained to deal with the media, she said.

Councilman J. Wallace McClure said he's looking for someone his age or a little younger with "East Coast experience."

McClure, 48, said he also wants police officers to pay more attention to minor offenses, such as traffic offenses.

Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said he wants the next chief to come from a place similar to Hagerstown.

Councilman Alfred W. Boyer was absent from Tuesday's meeting.

Kohlhepp said the association will use the information to find candidates for the chief position.

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