Police Chief Search
The City of Lincoln (serving a population of 290,000 in a 100-square mile area) is seeking qualified applicants for the position of Police Chief. The city is looking for a proven leader who is committed to professional, community-focused, and transparent policing, and has demonstrated experience implementing 21st Century policing principles. The successful candidate will have exceptional management and communication skills to lead the men and women of the Lincoln Police Department, as well as the ability to effectively and enthusiastically engage, communicate, and collaborate with all of the diverse groups that make up the Lincoln community. The police chief is appointed by the mayor, with approval from the city council, and reports to the mayor.
On January 8, 2021, Lincoln Police Chief Jeff Bliemeister accepted a position in the private sector. On February 18, 2021, Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird launched a four-week public engagement process to seek community feedback on the skills and qualities residents would like to see in Lincoln’s next Police Chief.
Public Engagement Methods
The public engagement process included a short survey in which residents could participate. The survey was available online in five languages and at local library branches in paper format, with the option to be taken via phone. In addition, the Mayor invited the community to participate in focus groups. She met with a diverse cross-section of residents and community stakeholders. She held a total of six public focus groups with representatives of the business sector, education sector, faith communities, law enforcement organizations (e.g. Lancaster County Sheriff’s Department), social service partner organizations, neighborhoods, and youth. She also engaged in 13 meetings with different groups of Lincoln Police Department staff, three City Advisory Board meetings (Mayor’s Multi-cultural Advisory Committee, Mayor’s Neighborhood Roundtable, and Citizens Police Advisory Board), and three scheduled group meetings (System-Impacted Youth, NAACP, and Black Lives Matter) for a total of 25 events.
Partners and Process
The City is working with the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), a police research and policy organization that has helped cities recruit and select well-qualified Police Chief candidates for 30 years, to conduct a national search. PERF has assisted with more than 75 executive searches in the last ten years and is experienced in coordinating successful searches during the pandemic.
Throughout the month of April, PERF will help the City screen applicants, and an interview panel will meet with selected candidates in late May. Once the interview panel recommends the finalists, the City will schedule an additional public forum in June to provide an additional opportunity for public input before a final decision is made by the Mayor. The nomination is then subject to approval of the City Council.