Shop local for new chief

Experienced in-house candidates provide continuity

The search for a new Chico police chief is nearing its culmination, with the pool of applicants narrowed to a handful. Among the finalists are the interim chief, Mike Maloney, and his administrative partner, Lori MacPhail, the first woman captain in Chico PD history.

We are intrigued by the promise of a female police chief, but we admire MacPhail for more than her gender pioneering. She is a well-spoken, composed, experienced law-enforcement professional. So, for that matter, is Maloney, who has distinguished himself during his stints as acting chief and now in his interim capacity.

Chico would be well-served by either of them, particularly if the other remains in a captain’s office. What we don’t think would serve Chico well is an outsider coming into police HQ at this time.

No organization is perfect, and it’s impossible to do a job as inherently controversial as policing without raising eyebrows. That said, Chico PD seems to be running smoothly despite the dueling challenges of the recession: decreased resources, increased crime. There is no need to throw another challenge—leadership change—into the mix.

It’s not as if Chico has had great luck in retaining chiefs. Too often, those who move to Chico do so simply to add “chief of police” to their résumés and a salary bump to their retirement packages. Few have lasted long or made a lasting impact.

Maloney and MacPhail have planted roots here. They’ve moved up in the ranks of the department, earning respect from other Chico police officers who have done the same. Sometimes outside intervention is in order, but we don’t believe that’s the case here. We encourage City Manager Dave Burkland to promote from within, to make the new chief a familiar face.