Marana is putting "a game plan in place" to search for a new police chief, according to Town Manager Gilbert Davidson.

That plan, being detailed for the town council at its Aug. 10 study session, includes the hiring of an outside firm to assist with a nationwide search. Davidson plans extensive participation from the public, town staff, the Marana Police Department and the Marana Police Officers Association in the selection of a replacement for Chief Terry Tometich, who has announced his plans to retire by year's end.

Suzanne Machain, Marana's human resources director, said agreements are being finalized with Waters Consulting Group and its subdivision, Waters-Oldani Executive Recruitment of Dallas, Texas. The company will help develop the candidate profile, advertise and market the job, identify qualified candidates, perform preliminary screening for semifinalists, verify background checks and academic records, and report back to the town.

That work takes "a tremendous amount of time," Davidson said, and Marana's human resources department is "already reduced" because of budget cuts.

"We have the ability and the skill, we just don't have the time," Machain said.

"They've been through this many times with other communities," Davidson said of the firm. "They've got the process down.

"We want to make sure it is a very competitive process," he continued. "We are making sure the most qualified applicant is available to join the team."

Waters Consulting would be paid $15,500 to assist with the chief search, then another $12,500 to help Marana find a replacement for Assistant Town Manager Deb Thalasitis, who plans to leave town government by the end of the year. Because of the two searches, "they were able to give us a discount for that," Machain said.

Marana would pay for advertising, travel and other expenses incurred by Waters in the process. "We're going to try to squeeze even further any costs we can," Machain said. She anticipates the process could take up to four months. "We could get started as early as next week," Machain added.

The chief's job is a high-level position in a department that has had its share of turmoil.

"We want to make sure we invest in making sure the process is inclusive," Davidson said. Representatives of the MPOA, the union that represents uniformed officers, "need to be involved, absolutely," Davidson said. "The police department needs to be involved in the process. It's their chief."

"This is a crucial position for the community, and we want the input of the community," Machain agreed. "It's important to get the key stakeholders involved."

Davidson wants a chief who can "pick up what Terry has done, and been able to implement, and run with it," he said. "We want this person to invest in us, and be with us for a good, long while."

Marana has been "fortunate" that Tometich, who had retired from a career with the Arizona Department of Public Safety, "resided in our community and was willing to assist the town at a time of need," Davidson said. "He's been able to establish relationships, procedures and protocols, and resolve issues. We're grateful and thankful for what he's done."

The job of police chief is "a tough job, a demanding job, 24/7," Davidson said.

It's perhaps more so in Marana, which was "a very small community" even a decade ago. "We've grown, added all this population and area to cover, added employees and staff," Davidson said. "If the culture isn't clearly established, when you start adding people, you can really complicate things quickly. We need someone to take the time to really establish strong protocol, to develop an identifiable culture of how the department's to operate, and who we are."

MPOA president Mario Williams could not be reached for comment.

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