By Ed Runyan
Apparently the city will look past the top three administrators in the Warren Police Department to find its next chief.
The department’s three captains are most likely not interested.
That means in June, when Chief Tim Bowers retires, one of four lieutenants is the most likely candidate to assume the top job.
“I’m not going to give up my position now for that and all the challenges involved in that,” Capt. Janice Gilmore said Wednesday when asked if she will take the civil-service test to become Warren police chief.
She and Bowers earned about the same amount of money last year, Gilmore said, and she’s the lowest-paid captain in the department because she works relatively little overtime, she said.
In addition to pay, Warren’s police department has a low number of officers because of the financial constraints of the city, which adds to the challenges of being chief, she said. Gilmore said she thinks the fact that captains so frequently turn down the chance to be chief suggests that the pay scale for chief needs to be “realigned.”
She said it’s probably not worth it for her “take that on for the same money.”
Gilmore, who heads up the investigative division, also declined to test for the position in 2009, when Bowers got it. One of the other captains, Tim Roberts, head of the road-patrol division, didn’t choose to compete for the job in 2009 and has indicated that he won’t test for the job this time either.
Capt. Joe Marhulik, who has served as acting chief at times this year and headed up the support division (dispatchers and other support personnel, grant writing), will retire in the next few months and is not expected to seek the chief’s job.
Under the city’s civil service rules, lieutenants can test for the chief’s position if there are not two captains taking it.
A lieutenant must have two years as a lieutenant to qualify to take the chief’s test. Five lieutenants have at least two years in the position, though one of those, Gary Vingle, will retire Dec. 18.
The four others are Cathy Spencer, Eric Merkel, Robert Massucci and Martin Gargas.
Lieutenants frequently serve as commander for a particular shift or unit.
Spencer took the chief’s test in 2009 but finished second to Bowers.
Bowers said Wednesday he understands why none of his captains want the chief’s job.
“It’s the hardest job in the police department,” he said. “Captain down here in the place to be.”
Bowers said chief is “someone to point to” as the “top of the pyramid” and the only non-union employee in a “strong collective bargaining” environment.
“It’s all consuming. It’s a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week job,” he said.
At a Wednesday morning meeting of the Warren Civil Service Commission, longtime member Atty. James Fredricka said he has thought at various times that the selection of police chief should involve some consideration of a candidate’s employment history.
The city has used a written test alone at some points and a written test and assessment at other points. It used only a written test the last time.
Fredericka said he doesn’t think an assessment — an interview with seasoned law-enforcement personnel — is worth the thousands of extra dollars it costs, but he finds it odd that the current method doesn’t consider a person’s employment record in any way.
Bowers, who did not attend the meeting, said he believes promotional tests for every position in the police department should include at least some measurement of a candidate’s training or education.
The test for police chief is scheduled for either Feb. 20 or Feb. 21, and a test for a captain’s position to be vacant in the spring will be given either April 23 or April 25.
The deadlines to apply for chief will be sometime in January, and the deadline to apply for captain will be sometime in February.