Wright City taps police association for chief search

Adam Rollins, Staff Writer
Posted 9/10/21

Wright City is employing the services of Missouri Police Chiefs Association, a private nonprofit agency, to conduct a search for the city’s next head law enforcement officer.

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Wright City taps police association for chief search

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Wright City is employing the services of Missouri Police Chiefs Association, a private nonprofit agency, to conduct a search for the city’s next head law enforcement officer.

The Wright City Police Department has been operating under an acting police chief since the resignation of Chief Matt Eskew in June. The city’s board of aldermen on Aug. 26 voted to hire the Police Chiefs Association (MPCA) to conduct a statewide applicant search for the position.

Under the approved service agreement, Wright City will pay up to $6,000 for MPCA to advertise the position, collect candidate applications, and conduct the first two levels of screening. More specifically, each applicant will be asked to submit a written essay, from which MPCA will select the top 10 candidates. Those candidates will then sit for an oral interview with a panel of law enforcement professionals assembled by MPCA.

The names and information of the top six candidates for police chief will be provided to Mayor Dan Rowden and the Wright City Board of Aldermen for their review and preparation for a final round of interviews. MPCA has agreed to provide that report by mid-October.

After meeting with the police chief candidates, aldermen will assign MPCA to conduct background checks on their top two candidates before making a final hiring decision.

Throughout the candidate search, MPCA has stated that it will maintain the confidentiality of all personally identifiable information of the applicants.

Board of Aldermen President Ramiz Hakim said the city’s leaders decided to hire the chiefs association because of the group’s long experience running similar candidate searches.

“They have a much larger and deeper reach in law enforcement than what any board of aldermen could achieve,” Hakim commented. “Since they’re law enforcement professionals, they know better what to look for in a chief, what questions to ask, what kind of tests and interview techniques are appropriate to vet a candidate.”

He added that aldermen have identified key qualities that they’re looking for, based on their thoughts on the community’s needs and feedback from all the city’s police staff.

Mayor Dan Rowden, who is a retired Washington, Mo., police chief, said conducting a statewide candidate search is the best way to guarantee quality applicants.

“We want to make sure that we are getting the absolute best candidate. Our (local) candidates that meet the qualifications will be able to apply for the job, but we didn’t want to just say, ‘Only our guy is going to get it,’ ” Rowden commented. “We want the best person who has the skills, knowledge, temperament, mindset and ability to build the proper atmosphere for the department, who can continue to help us grow. Our city’s going to grow, and we want a person who’s going to be able to pull those skills together and build the team that we need for the long term.”

Rowden said he expects a new chief of police to be chosen within two months. The position could receive a wide variety of applicants, he said, from younger command officers who are looking to step into their first role as chief, to the heads of larger police agencies that want to move to a smaller town.

Former Police Chief Matt Eskew resigned on June 15 for unspecified reasons. City officials signed a $33,000 severance agreement with Eskew, which included a non-disclosure clause and prohibition against further legal action.

Eskew had served as police chief since November 2013.

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