Among the business at Monday night's municipal council meeting, council voted unanimously to authorize Norristown Municipal Manager Dave Forrest to enter into an agreement with Reading-based Safe City Solutions, LLC (SCS) to conduct a search for candidates to replace retiring Police Chief Russell J. Bono. Chief Bono is set to retire at the end of February this year.
According to the agreement, SCS would conduct an initial review process including screening resumes and review written questionnaires and video presentations. SCS would also help with advertising the post. SCS would offer up to 15 candidates and will then work with the municipality to narrow the field to 5 or 6 candidates. Those finalists would subjected to a professional oral review board, an in-basket exercise and a problem-resolution exercise. SCS would then provide the municipality with a written review of each candidate's performance. Three final candidates would be referred to the municipality for interviews.
Total cost of the search estimated by SCS would be $9,200 with additional services provided at a rate of $90 per hour.
According to Councilman William Caldwell, Public Safety Committee chair and Chair of the ad hoc police chief search committee, council chose SCS because its principals had a particularly profound understanding of Norristown's unique situation as a suburb with urban crime problems.
"Safe City is a company that was formed by two police chiefs," said Caldwell. "One works as the police chief of Towamencin. The second principal in that company is the police chief in Reading, [which] obviously faces very similar issues that we do. [They] very much understood the kinds of things we deal with every day."
"We believe that we have a good combination [with SCS] that both reflects and understands the nature of a small municipality but also will understand very clearly the issues that we face on a daily basis," added Councilman Dwayne Royster.
Both Royster and Councilwoman Dr. Mary DeSouza expressed their appreciation of being able to move forward on the search after months of discussion.
"We're grateful to be moving forward at this point," said Royster. "This is long overdo and we need to move forward in an expeditious fashion."
"I'd like to echo Councilman Royster's sentiments," added DeSouza. "This is long overdo and I'm glad we finally made a decision."
In a related matter, council voted to approve a separation agreement between the municipality and Chief Bono at Tuesday's meeting. Specific conditions of the agreement were not discussed at the meeting, but Councilwoman Cathy Lawrence confirmed that the agreement was mutually agreed upon by both council and Chief Bono.
According to Lawrence, the separation agreement covered certain extended benefits for Chief Bono and included language prohibiting him from bringing suit against the municipality for any reason. The agreement also reportedly covered compensation should he be called back to testify in any legal matters.
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