Sticking with tried-and-true recruitment methodology, the city of Salinas has again hired the Sacramento management consultant firm of DMG-Maximus to find the city a new police chief and a new fire chief.

"We''re looking for direct experience and knowledge of the urban environment," says Salinas City Manager Dave Mora, who adds that the new chief will also be "ideally, a bilingual candidate," in keeping with the needs of Salinas'' large Hispanic population.

The other high priority, Mora continues, is experience in a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural community. City Councilmember Robert Ocampo, who represents predominantly Latino East Salinas, agrees.

"We want a police force that can form a relationship with the community," says Ocampo, who notes that Salinas is more than 50 percent Latino. "We want to hire the best qualified. The reality is you do find a lot of non-Latinos that are sensitive to Latino culture and language and the problems of the economic status of Latinos."

Mora also stresses the need for the successful police candidate to have team involvement to work with the council, the city''s senior management team and the community at large. Specifically, he says the city is committed to finding another chief dedicated to the idea of "community policing"--the idea of having police out of their cars and walking and biking amidst the people they''re sworn to protect. "We''re looking for community-oriented policing experience," Mora adds of the chief post. "Dan (Nelson) started community-oriented policing and we want to continue it."

"Being a cop is a tough job," adds Ocampo. "Our police officers generally do a good job. But I think the east side would like to see a Latino chief--we''ve never had one--if we could find one that''s qualified. The whole city," he continues, "wants someone who will not only talk about community policing but implement it aggressively.

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Both Salinas Police Chief Dan Nelson and Salinas Fire Chief Richard Smith last week announced their intentions to retire in the coming months. Nelson will leave on April 30 and Smith departs on June 4. Nelson has been on the Salinas job for eight years, Smith for five and a half years. Both men have stated there are no ulterior reasons for leaving their posts other than the desire for rest and relaxation.

The new police chief will head a department of 199 employees, including 150 sworn officers, and an $18 million budget. The position is being advertised at a salary range of $5,076 to $9,670 per month. The new fire chief will oversee a department of 92 employees, 88 of whom are sworn firefighters, and a budget of almost $8 million. The fire chief is being advertised at $7,215 to $9,209 per month.

Mora says fire department responsibilities include paramedic as well as hazardous material response. "We need someone who will relate to the community as well as the department, someone strong in fire department management."

"We''re in a good marketplace," says Bob Murray, who is handling both recruitments for DMG-Maximus. "It''s not what you see in more urban cities but it''s the right place to compete effectively for candidates."

Although the recruitments are nationwide in scope, the focus, says Murray, is in the west and California. Murray''s firm also conducted recruitments for Salinas'' city attorney, assistant city manager and for Nelson''s post.

Prospective chiefs for both departments have until March 12 to apply. cw

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