Police chief search starts with insiders

The search for a new police chief will start close to home — inside the Ridgefield Police Department — though a broader search may be undertaken if interviews with three applicants currently serving the town don’t bring a consensus as to the best choice, Police Commission Chairman Charles Knoche said.

“We know what their qualification are, we know they’re capable. And they know the town, they know the people, and they know the people that are currently serving,” Knoche said, explaining the commission’s decision to start the process with interviews of candidates from inside the department.

“Sometimes when you get someone in from out of town, they’re not familiar with our department and everything’s new to them, all the officers are new to them, and they don’t know the town,” Knoche said. “And it’s a learning curve to get to know the townspeople and the lay of the town.”

An internal search also carries less risk of bringing in someone who turns out be incompatible with the department, or brings in a work culture that shocks the system.

“You have to be careful you’re not going to pick someone that’s going to start a morale problem,” Knoche said.

The three members of the department who have applied for the chief’s position are Maj. Steve Brown, Capt. Brian Terzian, and Capt. Jeffrey Kreitz.

“What we did is we offered it out to the captains and above,” Knoche said. “There’s three captains and one decided not to do it, so two captains and the major have put their applications in to interview.”

Altogether, there are about 45 men and women in the police department, he said.

The Police Commission plans to do the initial interviews Oct. 22, and then decide if it wants to broaden the search.

“We might open it up to the outside. It depends upon how the internal interviews go,” Knoche said.

“If we have one clear candidate from the three that have applied, we’ll go with that. If not, then we’ll consider going outside.”

Commissioners have two meetings planned before the interviews. Their regular monthly meeting comes Thursday, Oct. 11, starting at 7 in the town hall annex. The commission also plans a special meeting, in executive session, on Oct. 19, at 1 p.m. at the police station.

And then the three interviews on Oct. 22 will start — and possibly end — the search.

“If we kind of feel there’s not one really good clear candidate,” Knoche said, “then we may decide to go outside — but that doesn’t mean that one of those couldn’t be it, either.”