City Manager Michael Penny received 45 applications to replace retiring police chief Heather Coogan, 25 of them from out of state.
He declined to identify any of the applicants but said he’ll announce the names of the finalists. He’s assembling six-member panels — to include citizens, chiefs in other jurisdictions, Littleton police and other department heads — to review his top six choices. The ultimate decision will be his.
The search for a new chief was conducted in-house. The last time the city used a headhunting firm was when Penny was hired in 2011, at a cost of $22,300. He said positions that are city council’s charge — city manager, city attorney and presiding judge — are more likely to be filled using an outside firm, mostly because council can’t commit full-time hours to the task as can the human-relations department.
“I’m very comfortable in our HR staff’s ability,” he said. “I think we can get a deep pool of candidates ourselves.”
Coogan’s last day is officially April 1, and division chiefs Bob Brandt and Bill Christensen are exiting with her. Starting April 2, Cmdr. Gene Enley will serve as acting chief, and Cmdrs. Kim Ferber and Paul Creadon will be acting division chiefs.
Penny said he’ll leave the decision about replacing Brandt and Christensen up to the new chief, whom he hopes to have in place by May.
The three are leaving just months after a survey of city employees showed the police department was less satisfied with its direct supervision and senior leadership than other departments.
“The responses indicate opportunities for improvements, specifically in supervision, which we can focus on for the upcoming year,” Penny said at the time. “The good news in the areas of ‘senior management’ and ‘supervision’ is, we have control over those areas and can work toward positive change.”
Coogan took the helm in 2007, replacing Gary Maas. He retired after an independent study described the department as being in “tumult” under his leadership.
Coogan, Christensen and Brandt are taking advantage of an incentive offered to all LPD sworn officers ages 57 and older. In exchange for retiring now, their health insurance will be paid until they’re 65.
Officer Bob Carmody, 63, also took the deal after serving LPD for 28 years. He’s best remembered for helping to save a baby in 2006, after the mother unexpectedly delivered her in a restroom.
Another decision council needs to make is how to replace Kirsten Crawford, former city attorney. The position is council’s charge, and Penny said the matter is on the agenda for a study session March 12. Council could farm out the job to a firm, hire a new city attorney, or some hybrid of the two.
Crawford resigned Feb. 5. The announcement came 10 days after council placed her on paid administrative leave, apparently at her request, following an hour-long executive session.
Crawford cited “personal reasons” in her three-sentence resignation letter. She had held the job since March 6, 2012, when she replaced Suzanne Staiert, who started in 2008.
Council fired Staiert on the same day she filed an EEOC complaint against the city in September 2011, and she went on to become Colorado’s deputy secretary of state.
Kristen Schledorn remains as Littleton’s deputy city attorney. She was hired in May.