City Council told new Police Chief should be hired ‘in about 60 days’
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula City Council
Published: February 08, 2013
A new Santa Paula Police Chief should be hired by early April, according to City Manager Jaime Fontes, who told the City Council he expects a new top cop will be hired “in about 60 days.”
Fontes gave a verbal report on the hiring process at the February 4 meeting following previous requests by Councilman Martin Hernandez that the council be updated.
Fontes fired Chief Steve MacKinnon - who joined the city in November 2005 - in June following a paid suspension MacKinnon was placed on in April that centered on allegations he improperly used a city vehicle. MacKinnon was also accused of using a city credit card for personal gasoline purchases and altering time sheets. MacKinnon denied all the allegations.
Ishmael Cordero, a longtime SPPD sergeant, has been interim chief since April. The city opted for in-house recruitment process, which closed September 28 after drawing 25 applicants.
At Monday’s meeting Fontes prefaced his remarks, noting that Santa Paula Municipal Code “vests in me the authority to name department heads including the new chief of police.” The process “has begun and is ongoing,” with the applications “currently in the hands of an expert panel comprised of the Oxnard Chief of Police Jeri Williams,” Assistant Sheriff John Crombach and District Attorney Greg Totten.
Williams, Crombach and Totten are supposed to look at the education, experience, training and other accomplishments of the applicants. Fontes said the professional law enforcement panel will then advise him on which recruits appear to be the best based on their résumé, a “short list” of viable candidates.
Next, a previously selected advisory panel “will provide feedback and will at one point have an opportunity to meet the candidates” and provide their “individual advice and thoughts to me” from a “community-based point of view.” Fontes noted the identities of the advisory panel will not be revealed until after the “selection process has been concluded.”
There is a sixth member of the panel, the president of Santa Paula Police Officers Association, Senior Officer Allen Macias.
After “reviewing input and feedback from both committees we will have the final interview and possibly interviews for the final candidates and make a selection,” a process Fontes said he anticipates will “conclude in perhaps 60 days.... Again, it’s ongoing and we’re giving it priority.”
According to the city’s October written statement, “after review by the Expert and Advisory Panels, the City Manager will conduct final interviews with recommended candidates. The City Manager intends to take both the Expert and Advisory Panels’ observations, evaluations and recommendations into consideration in making the final selection on the Police Chief position.”