Rhinelander police chief search down to 6 candidates
2-3 finalists to be named after commission interviews
BY KEVIN BONESKE
And now there are only six – six candidates still in the running to fill Rhinelander’s vacant police chief position, that is.
City Police and Fire Commission chairman Todd McEldowney said the half-dozen candidates remaining will be interviewed by the commission later this month with two interviews slated for Feb. 14 and the other four candidates to be interviewed Feb. 16.
Applications for police chief had been accepted by the city in the final two months of last year. McEldowney noted the vacancy initially attracted 23 candidates, who were narrowed down to 10 for phone interviews with the paid consultant involved in the hiring process, Stephen Hintz of Public Administration Associates.
The commission met in closed session Friday morning and discussed the oral interviews Hintz recently conducted. McEldowney said commission members decided to narrow the 10 candidates Hintz interviewed down to six.
After the commission interviews the remaining six candidates later this month, McEldowney said 2-3 finalists would be selected to be part of a “meet and greet” in the community and have final interviews sometime in March, before which Hintz would conduct background checks of those finalists.
Though the 2-3 finalists would be announced upon their selection later this month, McEldowney said the current remaining six candidates can’t be identified for confidentiality reasons prior to the naming of finalists whose identities would be a matter of public record.
McEldowney said he hopes the commission will be able to decide on the hiring of a new police chief by the middle of March at the latest. Though the City Council has authorized the commission to spend up to $6,000 this year in the hiring process for a new chief, McEldowney noted the amount spent so far is now under $1,000.
The police chief position has been vacant since Nov. 1 following the resignation of Michael Steffes, who left after more than nine years on the job to accept a position with the Wisconsin Department of Justice. Captain Ron Lueneburg is the acting police chief while the process to hire a permanent chief is ongoing.