Community input sought before hiring next police chief

The town council is asking residents what characteristics they want to see in their next police chief.

Town Administrator Ed Mello recommended a public meeting “where the community can weigh in and give some guidance or opinion or guidance to the selection committee about what they desire in their next police chief.” The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. July 19 in the council chambers at Town Hall.

Mello, who was promoted from police chief to chief executive in February, said his staff also will have the opportunity “in a more confidential, individual setting” to discuss their opinions with the selection committee.

“As you know, across the country, selections of police chiefs are particularly sensitive to being transparent involving community input,” he said. “So, we’ve trying to be sensitive of that.”

The selection committee includes Mello, the police chiefs of Middletown and West Greenwich, and two at-large local electors. They are Jamie Hainsworth, a former police chief who was Mello’s predecessor as town administrator, and Peter Gaynor, U.S. secretary of homeland security in 2021. Tina Collins, the finance director who served three stints as interim town administrator, also will participate in the interviews.

The deadline for applications was July 7. Mello expects the first rounds of interviews to take place between July 26-28. The proposed salary range for the police chief is between $95,000 to $110,000 annually, Mello said. The job posting emphasizes community policing.

“The chief of police is expected to be highly visible working to build and maintain positive relationships with the many civic and volunteer organizations as well as the residents and businesses of Jamestown,” the post says. “The ideal candidate will be engaged in the community and continue to build on the positive rapport developed by their predecessors.”

The department has 14 sworn members, including the chief, lieutenant, four sergeants and a detective.