The City is currently searching for a permanent replacement for Interim Police Chief Toney Chaplin. (Emma Chiang/Special to S.F. Examiner file photo)

Head hunting firm proposes $49K search for new SF police chief

Toney Chaplin may be the man leading the San Francisco Police Department in the wake of Greg Suhr’s resignation, but the search is on for a permanent replacement.

Those efforts are being headed by the Police Commission, which chose a search firm last month and is set to hear an update on the firm’s progress Wednesday from the commission’s three person committee heading the search.

While the final call will be up to the Police Commission and Mayor Ed Lee, city leaders are closely watching the process.

“First and foremost, the person should be a reformer,” said Supervisor David Campos, who was among the city leaders calling for Suhr’s resignation. “There should be a national search that is transparent and involves all … communities.”

Only one firm put its name in the hat: Ralph Andersen & Associates, the same firm that found Sean Whent, the Oakland Police Department’s chief in 2014.

Whent was named interim chief in 2013, after his predecessor’s abrupt retirement, and resigned last month amid an underage sex trafficking scandal. Suhr resigned from SFPD in May after The City’s latest fatal police shooting.

Aside from police chiefs, the Rocklin-based firm has done headhunting for other public positions in San Francisco and nationwide. Their contract is $49,000.

The process will begin with Robert Burg, the project director, meeting with the Mayor’s Office, the Police Commission and human resources to discuss the search plan.

Following those meetings, the firm will draft a profile, which will include the specific criteria and qualifications required by The City.

The firm will then advertise the position in a number of law enforcement publications as well as its own website. Those ads will be placed in International Association of Chiefs of Police, California Police Chiefs Association and California Peace Officers’ Association.

The next step, according to the firm, will be to screen applicants. After background research has been completed on a select group who meet The City’s requirements, Skype interviews will be scheduled with five to 10 candidates.

The commission then will be presented with a search report, which will break the candidates down into three groups: highly qualified, qualified and no further interest. The résumés for the first two groups will be included in the report as well as background research and interview notes.

From this cohort will emerge four to five finalists.

The firm will manage the logistical steps for the interviews and create an interview booklet. That booklet — including candidate summaries, resumes, and reports with interview comments and preliminary research — will contain questions and areas for discussion for each candidate.

The firm’s project director will attend the interviews, giving introductions for each candidate as well as facilitating of discussion.

The firm will also verify the top two candidates are in good standing in terms of their driving records, warrants, civil and criminal litigation and credit.

Each of the final candidates will be interviewed by the commission, who then will forward three names to Mayor Lee. The final choice is the mayor’s.

The firm’s process is expected to take three months.

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