Resort Entering Key Phase In Police Chief Search Process

OCEAN CITY — The process to find a new Ocean City police chief has entered a critical phase with the calendar about to flip over to April and the summer season looming.< ?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office">

Former Chief Bernadette DiPino’s departure last year has triggered a national search to find her replacement while three veteran captains taking turns as interim chiefs.

Ocean City recently concluded its national search, which resulted in 86 applicants from all over the country. According to City Manager David Recor, the first cut reduced that list to 39 candidates, who then received a written supplemental questionnaire seeking specific information regarding their management style, the handling of finances and other matters. That process winnowed the list of potential candidates to 36 as three more applicants dropped out at that point, and that list will be cut by about a third during the next phase of the search.

“We are now in the process of evaluating those written responses,” said Recor this week. “We will then do a second cut to the 12-15 range.”

With such a weighty decision pending, the town is seeking the public’s input on the new chief of police search. Through a release this week, the town of Ocean City invited the public to submit questions for use in the selection process or make comments about the attributes they feel are important in the resort’s new chief.

The question and comment feature is available on the town’s website. Meanwhile, Recor and the Mayor and City Council are also seeking input from an outside, independent source in the selection process. Town officials have enlisted a retired police chief and former city manager to help with the process.

“We have also asked an independent retired chief of police and city manager to help us evaluate those written responses and give us his top 15 candidates,” said Recor. “After we get those 15 or so, we will then establish a panel to do telephone interviews.”

According to the town’s release, another cut will take place in April, followed by telephone interviews and reference checks for the remaining candidates. Following that process, the remaining candidates will be subjected to personal interviews with an appointed panel and the survivors will then be interviewed by the Mayor and Council before final background checks.

“We expect the Mayor and Council to make the appointment in the first part of June,” said Recor.

While Recor said the national search resulted initially in 86 applicants for the position, it is uncertain how many if any are currently in the department. The OCPD’s command structure was revised last year with a three-captain format representing each of the department’s three divisions — patrol, support services and criminal investigation.

The three current captains include Kevin Kirstein, who joined the department in 1980 and was appointed captain in 2004; Michael Colbert, who joined the department in 1988 and was appointed captain in 2006; and Greg Guiton, a 25-year OCPD veteran appointed to captain last year. The three captains are leading the department on rotating, interim basis until the selection process is completed.