Better late than never on police chief search

September 20, 2018

The city of Kankakee is set to conduct a nationwide search to hire its next police chief.

At Monday’s City Council meeting, lawmakers heard a presentation from REM Management Services. REM specializes in conducting such searches and is expected to be hired at the next council meeting.

Since former police Chief Larry Regnier retired in April 2017, the job has been filled by three interim chiefs. When Mayor Chasity Wells-Armstrong took office at approximately the same time Regnier left, some council members urged her to conduct a nationwide search.

Wells-Armstrong instead first re-appointed Robin Passwater as interim chief, and after he resigned, turned to Price Dumas. Attempts to get City Council approval on Dumas’ full-time appointment were not successful, and he resigned last month.

So, about 17 months later, the route of a nationwide search now is being taken. It’s clearly a case of better late than never.

It’s apparent now that the mayor and the City Council need to find common ground on the police chief position. The process REM uses will help an accord be reached, and here’s why:

Dan McDevitt, spokesman for REM, said the City Council, the police and fire commission, police personnel and members from the community also would be involved in the search. That brings a lot of stakeholders to the table, and various opinions will be offered.

When it’s all said and done, the candidate who emerges as the favored choice will have the benefit of being screened by these people. The questions that arise can be answered before the selection is made. The chances of the City Council approving the appointment increase significantly.

The only quibble the public might have would be with REM’s asking price of $18,500. But that’s really a small price to pay to settle this matter, especially with its proven track record.

REM helped with the Kankakee police chief search in 1994, when Bill Doster was ultimately hired. Doster generally was considered an effective chief who helped curtail violent crime.

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