Fargo leaders seek more diverse group to choose new police chief
This time around, four residents, as well as one representative each from the Human Relations and Native American commissions, will sit on the selection committee with city leaders, staff, police officers and others.
FARGO — In an effort to gain input from a more diverse population, more residents and representatives from city boards will help pick Fargo’s next police chief from a pool of more than two dozen applicants.
Twenty-six hopefuls have applied to succeed Chief David Todd, who announced last month that he plans to retire at the end of July. The City Commission approved on Monday, June 15, a process of choosing finalists and ultimately a new chief.
The city will form a selection committee that includes Mayor Tim Mahoney, Commissioner Dave Piepkorn, Fargo Public Schools Superintendent Rupak Gandhi, Park District Executive Director Dave Leker, city staff, police officers and community members.
The committee could send its recommendations for the next police chief to the City Commission by Aug. 4, according to a tentative schedule provided by city staff.
Todd has been with the Fargo Police Department since 1987 and became chief in 2014. He was interim chief before he was chosen for the long-term position in October 2015.
The selection committee at that time included Mahoney, Piepkorn, City Administrator Bruce Grubb, two officers, the Civil Service Commission chair and one resident.
This time around, four residents, as well as one representative each from the Human Relations and Native American commissions, will sit on the selection committee with city leaders, staff, police officers and others. The additional residents and representatives will allow the city to tap a more diverse segment of Fargo’s population that is more representative of the community, Mahoney said.
Residents can apply to be on the committee starting Tuesday, June 16, by sending written statements of interest to the City Commission Office at City Hall, 225 4th St. N., Fargo ND 58102. Applicants must write about why they are interested in serving on the committee, answer how their service would contribute to the screening and placement of the next chief and describe any experience related to the responsibilities of the committee.
Information and records about the applicants for chief are exempt from open records laws under North Dakota Century Code. The state requires that the city release the names of at least three finalists before it chooses its next police chief.
A tentative timeline suggests about eight candidates could be selected for in-person interviews and receptions with police officers, but that number could change, city staff said.
Commissioner John Strand asked how commissioners would know if the pool of candidates was adequately diverse. Likely referring to the Black Lives Matter movement in Fargo , Strand said it is more important than ever to make sure the city is attracting applicants from various demographics.
The city is not allowed to ask applicants to list their gender and ethnicity, so it can’t track how diverse the pool of candidates is, city staff said.