And now there are 5: City to interview police chief finalists

Published 7:31 pm Wednesday, July 11, 2018

A pool of 39 candidates has been pared to five finalists in the search for a new Port Arthur police chief.

Interviews with the finalists were set to begin Thursday and an interview team will be formed, interim city manager Harvey Robinson said. He did not elaborate on who would be on the interview team.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“My intent is to have a recommendation before council within two weeks,” he said.

The News has submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for the names of the five finalists, which are expected to be released later this week.

The application packets were solicited first in house then outside the city. The posting for the position was placed on the city’s website and sites such as Indeed, Glassdoor, Simply Hired, Texas Municipal League and a career government site.

Previously, The News was told that the list of applicants was slimmed down to between 10 and 13. Robinson explained that some of the first applications were sent to his office while later others were sent to Monique LeFlore, director of human resources. She went through the applications and sent 10 to Robinson.

The new chief will replace former chief Patrick Melvin,  who abruptly resigned his post May 19 after less than two years with the department.

An internal email was sent out May 24 announcing applications would be taken for the chief of police position for one week, and then opened to external applicants, LeFlore said earlier. The job posting was then made public on the city’s website later that same afternoon.

The deadline for applications was June 15 and the job comes with a starting salary of $101,828 to $126,601, depending on experience and qualifications.

The city used a search firm — Strategic Government Resources — when hiring the previous police chief, who was chosen from a pool of 46 applicants that was trimmed to five. Of those five, one person dropped out. The final four went through a number of interviews,  including one with committee members as well as a meet-and-greet with the public before Melvin was hired in September 2016.

Melvin came under fire by some for his leadership style, shuffling officers around while promoting some with minimum experience and bumping heads with the police union, which ultimately issued a vote of “no confidence” against him.

Additionally, a group of officers were placed on administrative leave for possible corruption. Of those, one resigned, one is in arbitration to get his job back, one retired, some left PAPD and work for other agencies, and several were brought back to work.

Of those returned to service, one left to work at a neighboring police department and was in contention for the chief of police job in that city while another, John Owens, was reinstated. He eventually was promoted back to deputy chief and is now serving as interim police chief.