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Friday, February 1, 2008

Attracting a new police chief likely to cost more

By William Kaempffer
Register Staff
NEW HAVEN
— The next police chief, depending on his or her credentials, could end up being the highest paid executive in the city, earning even more than the mayor.
The administration has asked the Board of Aldermen to create a new salary range for the chief’s job, and if it were approved, the next chief would earn between $100,000 and $160,000.
"If you look at the salaries for cities our size, we’re pretty much at the bottom, so we’re going to have to make an adjustment to that," Chief Administrative Officer Rob Smuts said Thursday, four days after he sent the request to the board.
Chief Francisco Ortiz Jr.’s current salary is $105,079, although his total earnings in 2007 were $108,682.
The reason behind the request was the city’s ongoing national search for a new police chief. Ortiz announced last year he would retire to take a security job at Yale University. He agreed to stay on until his successor is hired.
The Police Executive Research Forum, which was hired to conduct the search, had cautioned the city that a salary in the low $100,000 range might not be enough to lure a top candidate with national credentials to New Haven, particularly when there is just two years left on the chief’s four-year contract.
CQ"We do not offer moving expenses or a housing stipend, and any selected individual must abide by our residency requirement and the minimal job security provided by the terms of office in our charter, which leaves a viable salary as a critical component in attracting the best," Smuts wrote to Carl Goldfield, Board of Aldermen president.
Goldfield has said there was a recognition among aldermen with whom he’d spoken that the city would have to increase the salary to attract quality outside candidates.
Currently, the top pay range includes the CAO, who is the police chief’s immediate boss, community services administrator, mayor’s chief of staff, economic development administrator, city controller, budget director and corporation counsel.
Smuts’ salary range is $73,500 to $125,000; he earns $108,469.
The police chief’s job, with a current salary range of $72,000 to $118,000, would be the sole job in the new top step.
The search is open to internal candidates as well, although there have been strong signals from City Hall that the next chief would be hired from the outside.
Smuts said the Police Executive Research Forum should have a list of finalists in March.
PERF also had suggested the city consider a severance package if a chief were hired from the outside, and Smuts said, "We have an ability to do something like that under existing structures. Whether or not we decide to do that is another question.
Chuck Wexler, executive director of PERF, said it has received about a half-dozen resumes so far for the job, but couldn’t say whether they were from local candidates or from outside the region because he has been in San Francisco for a management study of the police force there.
PERF posted the job on various Web sites and was actively recruiting from its network in law enforcement,
"A big part of our job is to actively seek out the best and brightest people who we think would be a good fit for New Haven."

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