We're glad Wellsville Mayor Susan Haugh has begun advertising for candidates for the chief of police position. There isn't a consensus candidate for the vacancy caused by the death of Chief Joe Scarabino, so it makes sense to widen the search.
Councilman Randy Allmon recently proposed contracting with the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police to conduct the hiring process. The association provides consultation and advisory services, testing, drug testing, background checks, interviews, written exams, as well as other procedures involved. Allmon said he felt the village should utilize the association to help prevent accusations of personality or politics interfering with the selection. It's too late for that. Those accusations have already been leveled, but perhaps using an outside organization to choose a candidate may have made the final choice more acceptable to the public.
Council voted against the proposal, citing costs, and that's too bad. Hiring a professional group to help in the selection process might be one way to remove politics from the process and ensure the best possible candidate is hired for this important position, especially since council and the administration are getting pressure from a vocal faction who believe the next chief should automatically come from within the police department.
We've been amazed by audience members at village council meetings acting like they should have a direct role in the hiring process beyond providing input. This isn't high school. The village is choosing a police chief, not a student council president or a prom queen where decisions are based solely on popularity. Certain skills and qualifications, as well as character requirements and leadership ability must be possessed by the person who fills this post. Just being well-liked doesn't make someone qualified for such an important position in the community.
In our form of government, we elect public officials to make decisions for us. We don't get to vote on every decision. We're supposed to trust elected officials to make the right choices. Sometimes we agree with their decisions, but many times we do not. Still, we must allow them to make them with minimal interference, and if you disagree you can vote them out at the next election. That's how America is supposed to work.
There is nothing wrong with opening up the process by taking applications, which is what most communities do when hiring a police chief. It is the duty of the mayor to select a person for the job and village council's job to act on that recommendation. Mayor Haugh should act quickly after going through the interview process, which needs to be conducted in consultation with council since they ultimately have to approve her recommendation.
And, if the majority of council approves, residents must learn to live with that choice and allow the village to move forward.