After a less than successful attempt to hire a new police chief this summer, the city of Statesboro is hiring a consulting firm to help with the reopened search.
In a specially called meeting Tuesday afternoon, City Council unanimously authorized Mayor Jan Moore to negotiate a contract with Developmental Associates LLC, based in Durham, North Carolina, for an amount not to exceed $30,000. Developmental Associates was one of two firms that pitched proposals to provide recruitment and candidate assessment services.
Developmental Associates actually asked for $23,000, and the other firm, Waters & Company, asked for about $1,500 more than that, said city Human Resources Director Jeffery Grant.
Seven firms responded to the city's request for proposals. Grant and City Manager Randy Wetmore said city staff members were unanimous in narrowing the list to these two.
Developmental Associates President Stephen K. Straus, Ph.D., spoke to the mayor and council by a computer videophone connection. Straus, who has a master's degree in public administration and his doctorate in political science, founded the firm in 1991.
All of the more than 20 searches for police and fire chiefs that Straus' firm has done in the last four years have been for cities and colleges in North Carolina, except for a chief for Spartanburg, South Carolina. However, the firm has found some of these chiefs in other states, including Georgia, and would like to expand to serve communities elsewhere in the Southeast, Straus said.
Developmental Associates will require that semifinalists for the job take an emotional intelligence test.
Job interviews are limited in what they reveal about applicants' abilities, Straus said. His process does use telephone interviews, conducted by a retired police chief, during secondary screening. But instead of final interviews, finalists will be asked to participate in an "assessment center" process, responding to scenarios such as a simulated emergency or role-playing press conference. Scoring panels, which city officials indicated should include staff, council members and community members as well as area police chiefs, will evaluate these.
"I think that when candidates look at their site, those who will sign up to go through this process will be candidates that really want (to be considered)," Wetmore said. "It's kind of a self-selecting process."
Wetmore was hired as city manager earlier this year. He officially started work Sept 1, only after first taking part in the final stages of the previous, aborted police chief search. The city did not use a search firm that time but did get assistance from the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police.
City officials introduced three finalists for the chief's job to the local public in early August but then didn't hire any of them. The appointment is officially Wetmore's to make as city manager, and his first action on the subject was an announcement in September that the search would be reopened, with previous applicants eligible to reapply.
The other offer
Waters & Company, based in Texas, has a more than 30-year track record in executive recruitment. The company has done more than 360 successful recruitments since 2010, company Vice President Miguel Ozuna told Statesboro City Council.
Waters & Company uses a more traditional interview process, according to Ozuna's in-person presentation.
The company aims for a 90-day timeline to hire a chief but has been averaging around 102 days, he said.
Developmental Associates proposed to bring the city candidates' scores and other information for a decision by day 71.
Both companies promised extensive background checks of finalists. But Developmental Associates emphasized the use of Google and social media searches earlier in the process, Moore observed.
The council's vote to use Developmental Associates was unanimous, on a motion from Councilman Travis Chance, seconded by Councilman Jeff Yawn.
Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.