Phoenix Police Chief Hiring Process

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The process to hire a new Phoenix police chief was a one-year process that started with citizen involvement and included a live broadcast of a candidate forum with the three final candidates. The unique hiring process has attracted international attention from other cities. Phoenix assistant city manager Milton Dohoney will tell us more about that.

TED SIMONS: THE CITY OF PHOENIX USED A UNIQUE PROCESS TO HIRE A POLICE CHIEF. A PROCESS THAT ATTRACTED INTERNATIONAL ATTENTION FROM CITIES LOOKING FOR WAYS TO INCLUDE COMMUNITY INPUT ON SUCH HIRES. PHOENIX CITY ASSISTANT MANAGER MILTON DOHONEY JOINS TO US TALK ABOUT THE PROCEDURES THAT LED TO THE HIRING OF PHOENIX POLICE CHIEF JERRI WILLIAMS. GOOD TO HAVE YOU HERE. THANKS FOR JOINING US.

MILTON DOHONEY: THANK YOU.

TED SIMONS: LET'S TALK ABOUT THIS PROCESS. FIRST OF ALL, HOW LONG DID IT TAKE?

MILTON DOHONEY: IT TOOK ALMOST A YEAR FOR US TO EXECUTE THE PROCESS FROM START TO FINISH.

TED SIMONS: HOW DID IT GET GOING? FIRST, BEFORE THAT, WHOSE IDEA WAS IT TO TAKE THESE KINDS OF STEPS?

MILTON DOHONEY: WELL, IT WAS MY IDEA. I HAD THE SUPPORT OF THE CITY MANAGER ED ZUERCHER. AND I FORMED A TEAM TO WORK WITH ME TO FULLY FLUSH OUT THE PROCESS AND EXECUTE IT.

TED SIMONS: I THINK WE HAVE A TIME LINE HERE. LET'S GO TO THIS AND HIT THE IMPORTANT DATES IT TOOK A FULL YEAR BUT THERE IS A LOT INVOLVED. IN NOVEMBER OF 2015 COMMUNITY MEETINGS AND ONLINE SURVEY TO GATHER INPUT. WHAT EXACTLY HAPPENED THERE?

MILTON DOHONEY: SO WE PUT ONLINE SURVEY OUT TO THE PUBLIC ASKING THEM WHAT KINDS OF EXPERIENCES AND TALENTS AND TEMPERAMENT DO YOU BELIEVE THE NEXT POLICE CHIEF FOR THE CITY OF PHOENIX OUGHT TO HAVE. AND THEN WE HAD ABOUT 13 COMMUNITY MEETINGS AROUND THE CITY UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL ASKING THE PUBLIC THE SAME QUESTION. WHAT DO YOU THINK THE NEXT CHIEF OF THE POLICE OUGHT TO HAVE IN ORDER TO SERVE YOU THE BEST WAY POSSIBLE?

TED SIMONS: THE COMMUNITY MEETINGS, WERE THEY RUN IN A CERTAIN WAY? WERE CERTAIN PEOPLE INVITED TO SPEAK? WAS IT JUST FIRST COME, FIRST SERVE? HOW DID THEY WORK?

MILTON DOHONEY: SO WE INVITED SOME COMMUNITY LEADERS BUT THEY BROUGHT OTHER PEOPLE. THEY WERE FACILITATED MEETINGS. AND IT ALLOWED TO US REALLY GET AT THE HEART OF WHAT WAS IMPORTANT TO THE PUBLIC. IT HELPED US TO HAVE A TRANSPARENT POLICE DEPARTMENT BY ASKING THE PUBLIC WHAT THEY WANTED TO SEE IN THEIR CHIEF. AND WE TOOK THAT INFORMATION AND WE LET THAT GUIDE US ON WHAT THE MARKETING MATERIALS OUGHT TO LOOK LIKE, WHAT QUESTIONS WE OUGHT TO ASK. AND WE WENT FORWARD WITH IT.

TED SIMONS: INTERESTING. THE TIME LINE SHOWS THE SURVEY RESULTS CAME. AND AFTER THE SURVEY RESULTS YOU BASICALLY, THE RECRUITMENT BEGINS. HOW IMPORTANT WERE THOSE SURVEY RESULTS TO THE RECRUITMENT AND TO WHAT HAPPENED IN APRIL OF LAST YEAR WHEN THESE TEN SEMIFINALISTS WERE ANNOUNCED?

MILTON DOHONEY: WE HAD OVER 1200 PEOPLE RESPOND TO THE SURVEYS AND SCORES MORE THAT CAME TO THE MEETINGS. IT WAS VITALLY IMPORTANT FOR US TO KNOW THAT WE WERE LOOKING FOR THE RIGHT PERSON, THE PERSON THAT THE PUBLIC WANTED TO HAVE IN THEIR CITY. AND SO THAT ALLOWED US TO LAUNCH THE PROCESS, TO LOOK ACROSS THE COUNTRY FOR THE BEST MAN OR WOMAN WHO WOULD BE SUITED TO COME HERE AND TAKE THIS JOB.

TED SIMONS: AND ONCE YOU FOUND, KIND OF WINNOWED THINGS DOWN HERE. THE SEMIFINALISTS HOW MANY WERE THERE.

MILTON DOHONEY: WE STARTED WITH A POOL OF 65 CANDIDATES. WE WHITTLED IT DOWN TO 10. AND THEN 9, AND THEN 3.

TED SIMONS: YEAH. HOW DID YOU WHITTLE IT DOWN? I KNOW THERE WERE COMMUNITY PANELS AS WELL. AGAIN, HOW WERE THOSE FOLKS CHOSEN TO TAKE PART?

MILTON DOHONEY: SO, WE HAD THREE DIFFERENT PANELS MADE UP OF COMMUNITY PEOPLE. WE WANTED TO GET A GOOD CROSS SECTION OF PEOPLE FROM DIFFERENT WALKS OF LIFE. DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES. AND THEY WERE INVOLVED IN ACTUALLY INTERVIEWING THE SEMIFINALISTS ALONG WITH SOME CITY STAFF. AND THEN THERE WAS INPUT TO THE CITY MANAGER. WE NARROWED IT TO THREE. AND THEN WE HAD A PUBLIC FORUM FOR THE COMMUNITY TO SEE THREE FINALISTS.

TED SIMONS: I WAS GOING TO SAY PUBLIC FORUM WAS TELEVISED, CORRECT?

MILTON DOHONEY: IT WAS TELEVISED LIVE. IT WAS STANDING ROOM ONLY. THE QUESTIONS THAT WERE POSED TO THE FINALISTS THAT NIGHT CAME FROM THE PUBLIC AS WELL. SO YOU COULD SUBMIT A QUESTION ONLINE IN ADVANCE OR YOU COULD SHOW UP AND WRITE A QUESTION AND WE ASKED IT.

TED SIMONS: I WAS GOING TO SAY. WHAT KIND OF QUESTIONS WERE ASKED BY THE PUBLIC AND I MEAN, WHO DECIDED, NOW, THAT'S A GOOD QUESTION. OH, MAYBE WE DON'T NEED THAT ONE.

MILTON DOHONEY: WELL, WE HAD REPRESENTATIVE FROM H.R. AND MYSELF TO PROCESS THE QUESTIONS. BUT THESE WERE REAL QUESTIONS ABOUT REAL TOPICS. SO EVERYTHING FROM YOUR VIEW ON BODY CAMERAS, YOUR VIEW ON TRAINING, YOUR VIEW ON BLACK LIVES MATTER, EVERYTHING WAS FAIR GAME.

TED SIMONS: I WAS GOING TO SAY DIVERSITY IN RACE, RELIGION, ECONOMIC WEALTH. I MEAN, ALL OF THOSE THINGS SEEMED TO BE A FACTOR.

MILTON DOHONEY: INDEED.

TED SIMONS: AND DESIGNED THAT WAY?

MILTON DOHONEY: IT WAS DESIGNED THAT WAY BECAUSE WE WANTED TO MAKE SURE THAT THE CHIEF KNEW WHAT KIND OF COMMUNITY PHOENIX WAS. WHAT ISSUES WERE OF IMPORTANCE TO ITS PEOPLE. WE WANTED TO SEE HOW AT EASE THEY WERE IN ANSWERING DIFFICULT QUESTIONS.

TED SIMONS: WHAT WERE SOME. QUESTIONS YOU HEARD FROM FOLKS? MAYBE SOME THE QUESTIONS YOU DIDN'T NECESSARILY EXPECT?

MILTON DOHONEY: WELL, THERE WERE QUESTIONS ABOUT DIFFICULT THINGS THAT YOU HAVE DONE. THERE WERE QUESTIONS ABOUT PHILOSOPHY OF POLICING. THERE WERE QUESTIONS ABOUT USE OF FORCE. THERE WERE QUESTIONS ABOUT HOW TO DEAL WITH PEOPLE WHO WERE MENTALLY ILL. AND SO IT RAN THE GAMUT OF EVERYTHING THAT A TYPICAL POLICE CHIEF WOULD HAVE TO DEAL WITH.

TED SIMONS: AND WHEN YOU HAD THE THREE FINALISTS, YOU HAD THE PUBLIC FORUM, YOU HAD THE INTERVIEW. HOW DIFFICULT WAS IT TO COME TO A CONSENSUS ON THESE THREE SEMI-FINALISTS AND THEN HOW DIFFICULT WAS IT TO GET THAT NEW CHIEF FIGURED OUT?

MILTON DOHONEY: WELL, IT WAS A VERY DIFFICULT AND CHALLENGING PROCESS. IT WAS CHALLENGING FOR THEM BUT CHALLENGING FOR US AS WELL. SO THE THREE FINALISTS WE HAD THE FORMER CHIEF OF CALIFORNIA, JERRI WILLIAMS. WE HAD THE ASSISTANT CHIEF FROM WASHINGTON, D.C. AND WE HAD THE INTERNAL ASSISTANT CHIEF FROM THE CITY OF PHOENIX. IT WAS A DIFFICULT CHOICE. BUT ULTIMATELY THE CITY MANAGER CHOSE JERRI WILLIAMS AND SHE IS NOW OUR NEW CHIEF.

TED SIMONS: SHE IS INDEED. THIS CAUGHT A LOT OF ATTENTION. LONDON WAS INTERESTED IN THIS ESPECIALLY TO FIND A NEW POLICE CHIEF FOR THAT MAJOR METROPOLITAN AREA. WHAT KIND OF QUESTIONS WERE THEY ASKING?

MILTON DOHONEY: THEY WERE ASKING QUESTIONS ABOUT THE PROCESS. THEY WERE ASKING QUESTIONS ABOUT WHY WE THOUGHT IT WAS IMPERATIVE TO INVOLVE THE PUBLIC IN THE PROCESS. THEY WERE SO IMPRESSED WITH THE PROCESS THAT THEY SENT A REPRESENTATIVE HERE FROM THE UNITED KINGDOM. HE SPENT SEVERAL DAYS HERE IN PHOENIX, NOT ONLY INTERVIEWING MEMBERS OF THE GOVERNMENT BUT INTERVIEWING PEOPLE FROM THE COMMUNITY WHO PARTICIPATED IN THE PROCESS. THEY WERE GOING THROUGH A PROCESS TO FIND THE NEXT CHIEF OF SCOTLAND YARD. HE THOUGHT THAT THE PROCESS THAT WE USED MIGHT BE RELEVANT FOR THEM.

TED SIMONS: WHERE HAVE THEY GONE FROM THERE? HAVE THEY MADE ANY CHANGES?

MILTON DOHONEY: THEY ARE LOOKING AT IT. I DON'T KNOW HOW FAR IT'S GONE BUT WE WERE QUITE IMPRESSED TO BE APPROACHED BY SOMEONE FROM THE U.K.

TED SIMONS: I WOULD IMAGINE SO. LAST QUESTION. IT SEEMS LIKE THIS IS AN ALL OVER SUCCESS. WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE NEXT TIME? ANYTHING THAT WAS A CHALLENGE OR MIGHT BE IN NEED OF FIXING?

MILTON DOHONEY: I THINK THE PROCESS WAS SPOT ON FOR WHAT WE NEEDED FOR THIS POINT IN TIME. I DON'T BELIEVE WE WOULD CHANGE ABOUT THE PROCESS. THE PUBLIC WAS INVOLVED. THE PUBLIC PLAYED A MAJOR ROLE IN GETTING THEIR NEW CHIEF AND WE'RE VERY PLEASED THAT JERI WILLIAMS IS OUR NEW CHIEF OF POLICE.

TED SIMONS: IT SOUNDS LIKE EVERYONE IS HAPPY WITH THE DECISION. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US WE APPRECIATE IT.

MILTON DOHONEY: THANK YOU FOR GIVING ME THE OPPORTUNITY.

TED SIMONS: WEDNESDAY ON ARIZONA HORIZON WE WILL BE VISITING WITH ARIZONA'S TEACHER OF THE YEAR. AND WE WILL VISIT WITH WORLD RENOWNED CLASSICAL GUITARIST JASON VIO. THAT'S AT 5:30 AND 10:00 ON THE NEXT ARIZONA HORIZON. THAT IS IT FOR NOW. I'M TED SIMONS. THANKS FOR JOINING US. YOU HAVE A GREAT EVENING.

Milton Dohoney: Phoenix Assistant City Manager

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