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Building Relationships with New Chief

August 3, 2018

I once read a book that dissected “relationship” into three critical elements: trust, value, and dialogue. It stated that each element must exist for there to be a relationship.

Eileen Donoghue was sworn in as the new city manager in April. Soon after, a decision was made to select Capt. Jonathan Webb as interim police chief while the framework for an official search was being developed to replace retired Superintendent William Taylor. During the time, Donoghue emphasized being committed to gathering input from the community. Over the past few months, I can assuredly say that the city manager has done just that, and I applaud her for following through on her promise of community outreach and engagement with various stakeholders. These dialogues are indeed invaluable and set a tone and culture of transparency.

Expectations around building and fostering trust, value and dialogue with a police chief certainly cannot be realized overnight. It takes hard work and time to achieve but operates well when those expectations are set during the interview, selection and hiring process. Members of the community must be able to trust that a new police chief believes in the value of: community policing, public safety, diversity, mental health awareness, racial/unconscious bias training, police accountability, and working with the LGBTQ community just to name a few. Members of the community must know that their feedback and unique experiences will be valued and welcomed by the new police chief.

These issues are of great importance to me, my family, and so many others in the community.

Two respectful suggestions for the city manager are the implementation of an Advisory Committee and a Meet-The-Finalist(s) community forum. An Advisory Committee can offer input during the selection process to aid the city manager’s final decision.

While these suggested recommendations for hiring Lowell’s police chief has not been done this way before in Lowell, we believe now is the time. The formation of a City Manager Advisory Committee as well as the opportunity to meet the finalist(s) in a public location are sure steps towards creating a culture of trust, value and dialogue -- a real relationship.

BOBBY G. TUGBIYELE, Lowell

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