Hiring process for new WL police chief takes shape
The future of the West Linn Police Department will remain in limbo for at least a few more months.
After announcing Oct. 31 that Police Chief Terry Timeus would retire following an extensive investigation into allegations of drunken driving earlier this year, the City has moved into the early stages of recruitment for a new chief, according to City Manager Eileen Stein.
"Right now we're soliciting proposals for a recruiting firm — we will be using an outside recruiter and conducting an external recruitment for the position," Stein said. "Once the recruiter has been identified, we will create a 'position profile' and that will go out to the market. Typically, recruiters have mailing lists for people interested in promotion opportunities. And we will advertise in the usual places — the League of Oregon Cities, the Oregon Association Chiefs of Police and the International Association of Chiefs of Police."
The position profile, according to Stein, features information about the community and details the qualities the City is looking for in its new chief.
"It usually mentions issues facing the department, a profile of the department itself and information about compensation and the benefits package, application deadlines and those types of things," Stein said. "We'll work on that with the recruiter."
Stein said she will also plan for several opportunities for community input — a particularly important step after Timeus' sudden and controversial departure. Timeus, who was first hired as interim chief in 2005, would move on to serve as permanent chief for 12 years. He was put on administrative leave in July pending an investigation into allegations that he drove under influence of alcohol in May 2017.
In late September, the Washington County District Attorney's Office — which was tasked with investigating the matter — announced that it would not file charges against Timeus. He remained on leave while the City conducted its own investigation regarding potential personnel policy violations. At the conclusion of that investigation, the parties mutually agreed to part ways and Timeus exited with a severance package of $123,394.
In search of a fresh start, the City will turn to community members for their input.
"There are a couple of points where I will want the community involved," Stein said. "In the near term, (with) helping us identify traits and qualities the community would like to see in a new chief. And in the actual interview and screening process, we will invite the community to be involved in that somehow — but I don't quite know how yet. We will cover that with the recruiter once they're identified, what kind of process they would recommend."
One of the first opportunities for community input will likely be the fourth quarter town hall meeting scheduled for Dec. 7.
"That will be a great opportunity to start the conversation about what qualities people would like to see in their next chief," Stein said. "I'll probably go to the neighborhood association presidents and public safety advisory board and various community groups (as well)."
All told, Stein estimates that hiring process will likely take until March or April of 2018. In the meantime, WLPD Captain Neil Hennelly will remain as acting chief.
Hennelly was also expected to apply for the permanent chief position, but instead announced Nov. 15 that he will retire at the end of June 2018.
"Originally, he had planned on retiring in February 2020," Stein wrote in an email to the City Council. "External recruitments for a Chief's position takes at least 4-6 months and they are costly to do all the aspects of the recruitment, including background and medical checks. If Neil was a successful in getting the Chief's position, he would only hold it for 18 months before retiring. He has determined this is not the best use of the City's very limited resources.
"Neil wanted me to mention that he is choosing to go out on his terms. He has not been asked to leave, nor has recent events contributed to his decision. The time is just right for him and his family, and to be fair to the city."
Stein added that Hennelly will still help with the recruitment and hiring process for the new chief.