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City Completes Search For Police Commissioner

By Beong-soo Kim

Cambridge wrapped up its nation-wide search for candidates to fill its newly-created police commissioner post last week with the announcement that more than 200 people had applied for the job.

"We got applications from all around the country," said Michael P. Gardner, the city's personnel director, adding that the city hopes to select a commissioner early next year, before Police Chief Anthony G. Paolillo steps down from his job.

Unlike the current police chief, the commissioner would be a civilian who would not have had to come up through the department ranks to qualify for the job. Although the city created the post of police commissioner in the 1970s, it did not budget money for the job until last year.

Advocates of the new post contend that a civilian leader of the police department will be able to work better with neighborhood groups. In addition, they say that a civilian will be able to implement minority hiring goals in a department that was rocked three years ago by a $15 million discrimination suit by three Black officers. That case was settled last spring.

"I think this provides us with a real opportunity to bring in a new sense of leadership to the department," said City Councillor Jonathan S. Myers, who supported the creation of the post last spring.

The new commissioner will also not have the "tenure rights" accorded to senior police officers and can be dismissed by the city manager, Gardner said.

Gardner declined to describe the applicant pool for the job, saying that he had not finished reviewing all the candidates. The Boston Globe reported yesterday, however, that at least one of the top candidates is a woman, and that several are minorities.

Several city council members remain critical of the new position, saying that it will add a needless political element to the upper echelons of the department's administration. Although the City Council is barred from directly interfering with the hiring and dismissal of Cambridge employees, it can issue requests through the city manager.

"If the majority of the council doesn't like the appointed person, he could be gone tomorrow," said Councillor Sheila T. Russell.

"It will just begin a whole new level of bureaucracy for taxpayers," Russell added. "When everyone's cutting back, Cambridge is spending more."

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