Search Is on for New Capitol Police Chief

Posted July 11, 2012 at 5:51pm

In a move that officially sets the hiring gears in motion, the Capitol Police Board contracted a Washington, D.C.-based firm today to lead the nationwide hunt for a new police chief.

The board did not say how much it is paying for the search, to be conducted by the Police Executive Research Forum.

The firm will solicit candidates from around the country to replace Phillip Morse, who stepped down in June after more than five years as chief.

Alexandria, Va.-based STG International Inc. oversaw the search that ultimately installed Morse from within Capitol Police’s own ranks — he had previously served as deputy chief.

In an interview with Roll Call this afternoon, Capitol Police Board Chairman Paul Irving, the House Sergeant-at-Arms, cited PERF’s experience working with law enforcement in “metropolitan areas similar to the national capital region.”

“We’ll have a kickoff meeting and we will develop jointly the knowledge, skills and abilities we feel are needed for this position,” he explained. “Once we feel comfortable with those, [PERF] will put an advertisement out, and then there will be a period of time when the pool of candidates are received, and then we’ll begin to vet those candidates.”

Though Irving said he hoped for a speedy turnaround, the contract gives PERF up to 120 days from today, the date the contract was signed, to wrap things up, which could take the search past Election Day.

Insider or Outsider?

The hiring of an outside firm does not mean that internal candidates won’t receive consideration, Irving said.

“I think we have a very strong internal bench,” he said.

Among those who might be in the running is acting Police Chief Tom Reynolds, who previously served as Morse’s second-in-command.

Capitol Police Labor Committee Chairman Jim Konczos has expressed interest in seeing an outside candidate take the job, saying it could end a pattern of “business as usual” within Capitol Police management. “We need someone who is their own person, who makes decisions not only in the department’s best interests, but the officers’ best interests as well,” he told Roll Call. “Reynolds has said things like, ‘This is how it’s been done in the past.’ That’s what we need to get away from.”

But the acting chief has also given Konczos reason to feel encouraged about a potential Reynolds administration.

Most recently, Konczos said, the top brass handed down more than 100 pages of new directives for officers to follow, such as forbidding visible tattoos and excessive facial hair. When Reynolds learned the union hadn’t had a chance to review the policy changes, he ordered a delay in their implementation.

The Labor Committee has also begun the formal process of filing a complaint with the Office of Compliance for alleged misconduct by Capitol Police leadership in handling black officers’ requests under the Family Medical Leave Act. Reynolds, Konczos said, has been receptive to finding an internal solution.