Selection Process for Watertown’s Next Police Chief Revealed

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Watertown Police Patch

Watertown’s next Police Chief will be chosen from among the ranks of the current Police Department, Town Manager Michael Driscoll said when he revealed the selection process.

On Tuesday night, Driscoll told the Town Council about his plans to replace recently retired Edward Deveau. He said the town will use the Civil Service process, and the finalists will be chosen using an assessment center as the only ranking device.

During an assessment center, the candidates are asked to react to real world situations in an oral exam.

“I spoke with the (state) Human Resources Division and the most popular method  used was the assessment center as the sole ranking device,” Driscoll said.

The top three will be interviewed and the Town Manager will pick the chief from the from those finalists.

The town will hire a consultant to design, administer and score the assessment center, Driscoll said. A request for proposals for this position will soon be issued. The HRD must approve of the consultant and all aspects of the assessment center, Driscoll added.

The Police Department’s two captains and six lieutenants will be eligible to apply, Driscoll said.

The other options the town could have looked at were:

  • An exam open to any officer in Massachusetts
  • Promote from within the department using a written exam and also taking into account training and education
  • Using a written exam to rank the candidates and also include the assessment center as part of the interview process
  • Using both the assessment center and the written exam to rank candidates (this was used when Chief Deveau was selected)

Driscoll said he spoke with the Watertown Police Supervisors Association – which represents captains, lieutenants and sergeants – to see what method the preferred.

Lt. Jamie O’Connor, vice president of the WPSA, commented on the process at the meeting.

“The Supervisors Union supports keeping the position within the ranks and using the assessment center as the sole ranking method,” O’Connor said. “Our hope is you can do the selection process as expeditiously as possible, so it will also allow for sergeants and lieutenants to be promoted.”

O’Connor noted that the Police Department has a promotion list based on rankings that expire in early 2016.

Acting Police Chief Raymond DuPuis said he also supports the Town Manager’s plan.

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