That same perception — which turned out to be correct — kept chiefs from submitting their names when Boston was looking in 2003; it was substantiated when, during the process, officials leaked the interest of two out-of-state police chiefs (who promptly withdrew from consideration) before naming friend-of-Tom Kathleen O’Toole.
There’s no reason to expect anything different in 2006. “I guarantee it’s hurting Boston,” says one big-city chief. “You can’t even talk to them, because they’ll use you as fodder. You’d take a huge risk putting your name in, because it’s going to leak out.”
Meanwhile, other cities are scooping up available talent. Newark, Minneapolis, Austin, Colorado Springs, and Topeka are among the large cities currently looking for a top cop, while Mesa, Arizona, just landed George Gascon, the well-respected second in command to Bill Bratton in Los Angeles. Other chiefs known to be looking, like Terrance Gainer, former chief of the US Capital Police, and John Buchanan, assistant police chief in Phoenix, won’t stay on the market long.
Which leads right back to the question of why the process is, in the words of a source close to the search, “in the early innings.”
“Why should it take six months?” Mullen asks. “If this was a corporation with a board of directors, it wouldn’t take six months to fill a key position.”
On the Web
"The Worst Homicide Squad in the Country," David S. Bernstein's coverage of the Boston Police Department's homicide unit in the Boston Phoenix: http://www.thephoenix.com/homicide