Rather than assembling a search committee and hiring a headhunting firm to do a full-scale search, as he did three years ago when hiring O’Toole, Menino has given the task of identifying candidates to his advisory committee, led by former John Hancock chairman David D’Alessandro and made up of three prominent local representatives of racial minorities: former district attorney Ralph Martin, Minister Don Muhammad, and Inquilinos Boricuas en Accion CEO Vanessa Calderon-Rosado. Members of the Police Executive Research Foundation (PERF) board also confirm to the Phoenix that the advisory team has sought suggestions from their organization.
Menino and his advisors are clearly not taking advice from the Phoenix, though. Back in May, we suggested the names of eight police chiefs, from Santa Ana to Miami, worth considering. The Phoenix was able to reach four of them last week, and all four say they have not been contacted about the Boston job. Another has since left for a position outside the country.
It’s not as if those chiefs aren’t interested. “If I received a call about it, I would listen to what they had to say,” says Norman Williams, chief of police in Wichita, Kansas. And Theron Bowman of Arlington, Texas, and Carl Waters of Santa Ana, California, said much the same thing.
In fact, the desirability of the Boston job underscores the sense that the city isn’t trying to lure anyone. “I would think that you will find really talented people” who want the job, says Dean Esserman, police chief in Providence, Rhode Island.
Yet that may not be the case. And many of the outside candidates from the last Boston search don’t seem to be available. Joseph Carter, chief of the MBTA police, has reportedly declined interest in the job, as has Ed Davis, chief of police in Lowell. Edward A. Flynn, former state public-safety secretary, was appointed police chief in Springfield earlier this year. Phil Keith, former chief in Knoxville, Tennessee, is now Amber Alert manager for the Department of Justice. And Daniel Oates, who was chief in Ann Arbor, Michigan, took the chief’s job in Aurora, Colorado, last November.
Within the department’s existing command structure, the only names being bandied about are the same ones considered in the last search: Superintendents Robert Dunford and Paul Joyce, and Captain James Claiborne.
In the interim, the mayor’s official silence is pumping the rumor mill. As Adrian Walker wrote in the Boston Globe last week, some locals are now convinced that the new commissioner will come from outside the department. That’s likely to prompt Dunford, Joyce, and Claiborne to start looking elsewhere for the chance to lead a department. There are certainly plenty of cities looking for a police chief that would take any of those three contenders seriously.
But other observers believe just the opposite: that Menino, true to form, will pick — or has already picked — an internal candidate, and that this “national search” is just for show.
“I personally believe the search is already done, and it’s going to be Superintendent Dunford,” says Mullen.
Scaring off candidates
Local observers aren’t the only ones who think Menino’s already made up his mind. Several prominent law-enforcement officials in other cities tell the Phoenix they’ve heard or concluded that the “national search” is just a preliminary to naming his favorite insider.