January Chief of Police Search Update from Mayor Kessler

Tuesday, Jan 25, 2022 at 7:30 pm

In December, we solicited proposals from a variety of executive search firms with experience in chief of police searches in Ohio. It took some time to receive all of the proposals back due to the holidays, but over the past several weeks I’ve been able to review the proposals with the help of several city council members and our city attorney, and finalize and execute a contract with the firm Ralph Andersen and Associates. I selected Ralph Andersen due to their deep expertise in police executive search processes, their intuitive understanding of the need for community and agency input throughout, and their familiarity with the current climate in central Ohio – they recently worked on the Columbus police chief and have been working on the Columbus Inspector General search.

This week, we’ll be finalizing the community engagement approach for the coming months. We’ll be working with Gayle Saunders and her team, a local Columbus engagement and PR firm, to meet with community members and stakeholder groups and to put together a community report outlining community priorities and expectations for our next chief.

In the initial announcement of this process, I indicated that I’d be looking to form a search advisory committee to help along the way. I’ve had overwhelming interest from residents who would like to be a part of that process, and there’s no practical way to accommodate all of the interest received. As I’ve thought more through it, I’ve decided to instead focus on a model that allows the engagement process to inform the creation of a candidate profile and the thought process throughout the final selection; think of this engagement strategy as, in essence, a broader-based search advisory committee. Community engagement will include workshopping with established Bexley stakeholder groups who have an interest in providing input into a vision for the next police chief, as well as a broader community survey and an opportunity for community workshop(s). Additionally, I’ll continue to offer regular touch base meetings to those who are interested in participating throughout the process.

Based upon the community engagement data gathered, a candidate profile will be completed, and the position will be advertised and circulated with the assistance of the search firm. I am expecting the initial community engagement process to take the better part of February, and the position to begin to be formally posted in early March. My next update will focus on providing more detail re: the upcoming community engagement process.
The interview process will involve narrowing down the field of candidates with the assistance of the selected search firm based upon the criteria informed by the community engagement process. When we’ve narrowed down to finalist candidates, a community process will include opportunities for the community to provide input into the selection of the final candidate. The details of this will be finalized in the coming months. 

My commitment to all of you is that this will be a process where community input is regularly sought and valued, and where communication will remain clear. I have found over the past weeks as we’ve been working on this that there are several universal attributes that those I’ve spoken with desire in our next police chief. We’re all looking for a chief who values community-focused policing, equity, fairness, openness, and who will competently preserve the safety of our neighborhoods. I’m looking forward to learning more throughout the community engagement process, and hope you’ll be an active participant throughout.

Mayor Ben Kessler

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