Survey to bolster hiring process of police chief (2/4/10)

Feb. 4, 2010

By Greg Elias and Tim Simard

Observer staff

The town of Williston wants residents’ opinions to help determine who to hire as the next police chief.

An online survey posted Tuesday afternoon on the town’s Web site,, asks residents to rank the personal qualities and professional experience they consider most important for a chief. Respondents can also suggest interview questions and add comments.

Though Town Manager Rick McGuire makes the final decision on whom to hire, he said survey responses will help steer the process.

“There’s all kinds of different types of qualified people out there,” he said. “But people all have different strengths and weaknesses. We want the strengths to match what people in the community have identified as most important.”

Williston has been without a full-time police chief since former Chief Jim Dimmick suffered a stroke in July 2008. After working part-time in 2009, he officially retired in December. Sgt. Bart Chamberlain picked up Dimmick’s duties and currently serves as Williston’s acting chief.

The deadline to complete the survey is Feb. 15. McGuire said he will then compile all data to form a profile of the ideal candidate. Once he creates the profile, the town will advertise the position across the country.

“The profile is an important part of the recruiting process,” McGuire said. “I found it to be an invaluable tool.”

The town is working with the International City/County Management Association, also known as the ICMA, to receive free advertising on Web sites and in print publications. Williston is one of three communities the organization will help in hiring a police chief. McGuire said the ICMA fully supports the survey, although it is not part of its hiring program.

The town has in the recent past formed interview panels that solicited community input when hiring Planning Director Ken Belliveau and Public Works Director Bruce Hoar. This is the first time, however, that the town has used an online survey to help find the best candidate.

McGuire hopes to fill the police chief position no later than July 1.