Bismarck Close to Picking Police Chief | VideoJoel Porter | 12/17/2012
There are three candidates to be the next police chief, including Bismarck officer Dan Donlin, and two officers from more then 1,300 miles away: John Zapalac and Christopher Elg.
"I think it`s a very competitive process," City Commissioner Parrell Grossman said.
After tallying the scores from last week`s interviews, Grossman expects to have a recommendation at Tuesday evening`s meeting.
"In this particular instance, we have at least two candidates that will make very good police chiefs," Grossman said.
"People want to follow someone with direction," Elg said.
But right now, Elg`s compass may be pointing in three directions. Besides Bismarck, he`s also a finalist for the same job in both South Bend, Indiana; and Bellingham, Washington.
"Is it a money thing? Is it stability? I don`t know. I guess my question would be, `Which job do you really want?`" South Bend City Council member and police officer Derek Dieter said.
Both Dieter and Grossman agree on one thing. No matter if the candidate is an internal hire or is coming from out of state, learning the job will take time. Bismarck`s new chief will have a city of more than 60,000 people and a force of more than 100 officers to watch over.
"And it`ll take you the normal, at least a year, to learn your personnel and it`ll take another year to learn the community," Dieter said.
"I think if you`re an internal candidate, it takes some time to get used to having that command and final say. And certainly, if you`re an external candidate, I think you have to become acclimated to the community, its citizens and to the environment," Grossman said.
The environment at this week`s commission meeting promises to be lively as city leaders hash out who they want protecting and serving as Bismarck`s next top cop.
Bismarck`s city commission will likely go into executive session to work out an agreement with the next chief. Interim police chief Fred Wooten will retire next month.