The value of good intel

A fact-finding mission for Chico’s new police chief would be good for the community

Chico is in the market for a new police chief. Bruce Hagerty has retired, and his boss, City Manager Dave Burkland, seems determined to do a statewide search before deciding whether to keep the interim chief, Mike Maloney, in place long-term. (See News story.)

Maloney most likely will get the job. He enjoys support on the City Council, in City Hall and in police headquarters. He reports to Burkland, who got promoted internally and, for his second-in-command, promoted internally. That appointee, Assistant City Manager John Rucker, just happened to come up the ranks with Maloney—last year at this time, they were the Chico PD’s two captains.

So why, in these tight fiscal times, invest effort and money in a full-on recruitment? Good question. We agree that such a high-profile position requires thoughtful consideration and community participation, but we don’t believe in process for process’ sake.

The city—officials and citizens—needs to decide what it wants from the police chief. What qualities are important? What priorities should he (or she) address? What strategy and approach best fit with Chico?

Burkland plans to convene a panel of some sort to offer input into the hiring. We suggest something more formal: a special hearing of the Internal Affairs Committee to form a recommendation approved by the full City Council. That means two open meetings, with corresponding opportunities for written comments, for the public to get involved. Then Burkland will have a good idea of whether he needs to look beyond Humboldt Road for a chief.

Maloney may well meet the criteria set out by the city. In fact, it’d be surprising if he didn’t. Either way—Maloney appointed or outsider recruited—the next chief would know what citizens expect, and good intel is key to good police work.