Inver Grove Heights takes first steps in police chief search

At its April 24 meeting, the Inver Grove Heights City Council took the first steps in the search for a new police chief, discussing a request for proposal that would bring in consultants to aid in the hiring process.

Lt. Sean Folmar has served as acting chief of the Inver Grove Heights Police Department since former chief Larry Stanger was put on paid administrative leave in April of 2016.

He was put on leave for allegedly providing information to the subject of a search warrant, alerting that person the warrant was about to be executed. No charges were ever filed against him for the alleged tip-off.

The council approved a separation agreement with Stanger at the end of last year and his resignation became effective April 30. 

City human resources manager Janet Shefchik said the council talked at its April 3 work session about the process for recruiting and hiring the next police chief. That process includes issuing an RFP for consulting services to aid in the search.

“[The] council directed me to go and get some information in regards to what some other cities have done,”  Shefchik said, saying she received seven responses.

Of the responses received only St. Louis Park had used a consulting service in its search for a police chief. 

Based on the information received from St. Louis Park,  Shefchik said she created a draft RFP, assuming the city would move forward with looking for a consulting firm. 

 Shefchik said she received input from some council members and residents.

“One thing that has been clear all along is we are looking for a fair and transparent process,”  Shefchik said, adding she is making sure to incorporate that point into the RFP. 

 

To hire a consultant?

Mayor George Tourville said the city didn’t necessarily need to hire a consultant.

“I will go with the majority, but to tell you the truth I don’t think we need to hire a consultant,” he said. 

Tourville said the process the council and city used, without the help of a consulting firm, when hiring its fire chief was “extremely transparent.” He said that hiring process received quite a few applicants and involved community meetings. 

Tourville said the search for a chief can be done internally and be done just as well as it would be if the city spent money on a consultant. 

Council member Paul Hark said the environment is now different from when the fire chief was hired — police are highly scrutinized by the public. He said he is in favor of hiring a consultant because he thinks it will go a long way in the public’s perception of transparency. 

Council member Kara Perry said she would have a hard time spending $20,000 to $40,000 for only potentially 30 applicants, saying she is in favor of doing the search in house. 

Tourville said the city is larger than it was 10 years ago, and the biggest thing it’s looking for is the “most qualified, best person.”

“I think we are very qualified to do it,” Tourville said, adding the public needs to be involved, which will be done whether a consultant is used or not.

Council member Tom Bartholomew said his concern is the ability to get a good field of candidates, and he thinks a consultant would help produce a better field and wider range of candidates. 

Council member Rosemary Piekarski Krech said that while it could cost the city between $20,000 and $25,000, whoever gets hired would be in charge of the city’s law enforcement and other important things, making it worth the money.

Tourville said the city’s RFP would need to include its right to reject any of the proposals. The council voted 4-1 to move forward with an RFP for consulting services, with Perry as the lone dissenter.

A final RFP will be given to the council for approval at its May 8 meeting. 

 

Hannah Burlingame can be reached at 651-748-7824 or hburlingame@lillienews.com.

 

 

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