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Police Commission looking internally for new police chief

The Hudson Police and Fire Commission will first consider only internal candidates for its new police chief position opening up next year.

Current Police Chief Marty Jensen, who will retire in March, said the department has five people who would be qualified—four sergeants and a lieutenant.

"Any one of the candidates inside I think would do a good job," Jensen said.

Commission member Tom Redner first suggested looking at internal candidates only, saying external candidates may not stay as long in the positions.

"In six months they vacate it," Redner said, citing the previous search for a chief in which two people were hired and left before Jensen took on the role.

Promoting internally would also show existing officers that they have a reason to stick around, Redner said.

It's a difficult question, said commission member Greg Sarno.

"You're looking for the best people obviously but if you don't hire from the existing organization you can be creating bad blood," Sarno said.

Jensen said the police department is in good shape, with strong community relations, so he would advocate considering internal candidates.

"If we had problems within the department, I'd say maybe we need to look outside," Jensen said.

Commission member Robert Staebell said he wanted to give the people in the department a chance.

"To feel there's room for advancement," he said.

Commission member Tricia Christiansen said the commission could accept external candidates, but prioritize internal ones. She said her only concern with looking solely at internal candidates first was the timing. If the internal ones didn't work out, advertising for external options would start later.

The commission agreed unanimously to look at an internal hire for the new chief.

Applications will be due Friday, Jan. 12, and the commission will review them on Saturday, Jan 20. Jensen said he will send out information to those in the department who are qualified.

Questions for interviews will be updated, as they are from the last round of chief interviews. Christiansen asked for suggestions from department heads about questions or concerns they'd want addressed in interviews.

In other news, the commission approved recruitment for police and fire eligibility lists. The lists are used to draw candidates for open positions as they come up in the individual departments. Jensen said the number of open positions has whittled down the previous list.

"Our list is pretty much gone," he said.

Applications are due Jan. 19, and hirings would likely be done by the end of April.

Fire Chief Scott St. Martin said his department also needs to update the list to match current and future openings. He suggested the department get rid of its current written test that is given prior to the application, as training for new members effectively covers what is needed. He recommended a physical test instead, and the commission agreed.

St. Martin said despite nationwide volunteer firefighter shortages, Hudson is doing relatively well.

"We're able to keep our staffing full," he said.

Rebecca Mariscal

Rebecca Mariscal joined the Hudson Star Observer as a reporter in 2016. She graduated from the University of St. Thomas with a degree in communication and journalism. 

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