Search to begin for new police chief (1/7/10)

Jan. 7, 2010

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

This month, Williston town officials will begin searching for a new police chief, and they’ll employ a new process to do so.

Williston Town Manager Rick McGuire expects the chief of police position to be advertised online and in print within a few weeks. The new chief will replace Jim Dimmick, who retired from the position on Dec. 1 after about three-and-a-half years with the department.

Dimmick suffered a stroke in July 2008. As he recovered, Sgt. Bart Chamberlain assumed the role of acting chief. Dimmick returned to the job in a limited capacity last year. He said his decision to retire from police work was not an easy one, but the limitations he experiences due to his stroke have made him unable to completely tend to his duties.

Chamberlain told the Observer in November that he has no plans to apply for the full-time chief position, but will remain acting chief until a replacement is found.

McGuire said the search for a new chief will go nationwide, this time with the help of the International City/County Management Association. McGuire said ICMA is piloting a new program that helps municipalities search for and choose applicants for police positions. Williston is one of three communities across the country testing the new program, which comes at no charge, he said.

“They believe it’s a more accurate predictor of success than the traditional interview process,” McGuire said.

ICMA’s hiring strategies differ from the interview process, McGuire said, although he said he did not yet have full details. He did say ICMA would likely use different types of assessments for job candidates, perhaps written and oral examinations. McGuire said interviews with candidates will still be an important part of the process. ICMA will also target areas to advertise the position to find the most qualified candidates, he added.

McGuire said he lobbied ICMA to be part of the pilot program when he heard about it late last year. He learned just before Christmas that Williston would be chosen as a “small town” test. McGuire hopes to learn more details soon about how the hiring process will occur.

McGuire said Dimmick set a high standard as police chief during his short tenure and hopes to find someone with similar values and commitment to the job.

“Generally, I’m looking for someone who has experience in working in similar sized organizations like ours,” McGuire said.