Santa Monica Benefits from Chief Selection Advantage Service

In an article published by Public Management (PM) Magazine, Rod Gould, the Director of Training for the Center for Public Safety Management (CPSM), discussed how the Chief Selection Advantage service benefitted the City of Santa Monica. The article can be read below, as well as via this link.

In December 2011, Santa Monica Police Chief Tim Jackman announced he would be retiring early in 2012. As City Manager, I was determined to carry out a nationwide search and not be content to simply interview the usual list of candidates.

I had become aware that ICMA has been doing work with industrial psychologists on the traits and characteristics that are essential for Police and Fire Chiefs to be successful in cities across the U.S. This was intriguing. Further, I wanted to be sure that this recruitment was tailored to Santa Monica’s unique needs.

After discussions with Leonard Matarese, I agreed that Santa Monica would serve as a beta test site for the Chief Selection Advantage Service, which is a collaboration between the International City-County Management Association (ICMA) and the International Professional Management Association (IPMA). Our Human Resources Department would handle the mechanics of the traditional search, but ICMA would lead a much more involved and analytical process to find the next Chief.

The first step involved ICMA’s Center for Public Safety Management (ICMA/CPSM) team reviewing hundreds of pages of reports, budgets, public information, and news articles on the Santa Monica Police Department. Next, the ICMA team interviewed 36 people over 3 days, including a ride-a-long and attending a shift change briefing. The interviewees included sworn and civilian members of the Police Department and representatives of the community, including neighborhood leaders, business executives, community activists, faith community members, a newspaper editor, a Councilmember and a vocal critic of the Department.

Based on the information gleaned, ICMA/CPSM developed a profile of where the Santa Monica Police Department stood at the beginning of 2012 and what was unique about its Chief’s position. The experts also provided helpful advice and insights into the desired experience, style, and leadership characteristics of the next Chief, as well as suggestions for possible policy and program improvements for the department as a whole. I shared this profile with the Police Department leadership, which stimulated some important introspection and frank self-assessment by the command staff.

We were fortunate to receive applications from some of the top cops in the nation. ICMA and IPMA provided our Human Resources staff with an analytical tool to allow us to internally assess and score the paper applications and to conduct the structured phone interviews necessary to whittle sixty-six applications down to seven for more rigorous evaluation. An elaborate six function Assessment Center was designed, involving live actors, and raters trained in how to objectively assess for the desired characteristics. Again, the raters included some outside subject matter experts, members of the City staff and trusted community leaders. The Assessment Center tested applicants in a variety of realistic situations requiring command presence, communication (written and verbal), community and media relations, counseling, problem solving and leadership during a crisis.

The all day Assessment Center on March 27 yielded two finalists. It was a very demanding but fair test according to all who participated. Follow up in-depth interviews the next day resulted in a clear choice.

Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks was chosen to lead the Santa Monica Police Department. She began her career with our Police Department as an officer and rose to Captain in 25 years, and then became Chief of Police in Inglewood. That Police Department was struggling under multiple pressures, including high levels of crime, public distrust, Department of Justice investigation, low morale, and numerous personnel issues. Chief Seabrooks cleaned house, set professional standards, lowered the crime rate, improved community relations, satisfied the federal investigators, and coped with repeated budget cutbacks and a revolving door of city managers over four-and-a-half years.

Some might have thought that she was chosen because of her Santa Monica roots. They would be completely wrong. Chief Seabrooks clearly was the best fit for Santa Monica as proven by the Chief Selection Advantage process run by ICMA/IPMA-HR. She won the job over chiefs, assistant chiefs and commanders from big departments in major cities in seven states. The rigorous, focused, and objective approach gives me great confidence in this outcome. Chief Seabrooks, the Santa Monica Police Department, the City, and community are all the better for it.

– Rod Gould, Santa Monica City Manager

, , , ,

Comments are closed.