NORTH LIBERTY– The City of North Liberty will use a professional firm to hire its next chief of police.
The North Liberty City Council voted unanimously at its regular meeting of May 28 to contract with Moulder and Associates LLC of Des Moines to conduct the search. The firm is comprised of a human relations consultant and three former police officers, including William H. Moulder, who served as Des Moines police chief for 18 years. Moulder and Associates have assisted the cities of Altoona, Carlisle, Nevada, Pella and Johnston in placing their police chiefs using a protocol that involves interviews with key city officials and staff, representatives of the police department and community leaders to create a profile of desirable candidate qualities.
The contract between the city and Moulder and Associates is not to exceed $14,000, plus expenses.
“It will be an extensive search that I feel is necessary to fill this high level position,” North Liberty City Administrator Ryan Heiar told the council.
North Liberty Police Sergeant Diane Venenga has been acting as chief of police since Feb. 1, 2013, when former chief Jim Warkentin tendered his resignation under circumstances not made available to the public. In his resignation document, Warkentin cited personal reasons for leaving his position. The city entered into a severance agreement with the former chief for $37,647 plus a month’s worth of insurance benefits. Warketin was hired as the city’s first police officer in 1999, and had reached an annual salary of $86,361.
According to city ordinances, Mayor Tom Salm is allowed to appoint a police chief if he wishes. However, Salm said he felt hiring Moulder and Associates is a good move because it involves more people in the decision process.
“Diane (Venenga) is doing a great job as interim chief, and she thought it would be fair to everyone if we did the search,” Salm said. “It eliminates bias in the process, everything is transparent and gives us an opportunity to involve everybody. It seems fair to have the council’s input, and I have a lot of confidence in this council. They ask a lot of good questions.”
Moulder and Associates was expected to begin gathering input from community members this week, Salm said.