The Madison Police and Fire Commission has decided not to limit itself to internal candidates to replace MPD Chief Noble Wray, who announced his retirement earlier this year. That's a very good thing.
I thought the PFC made a mistake when it didn't allow outside candidates to apply for the fire chief's job when that position became open a couple of years ago. It's not that the internal candidates were bad; they were very much the opposite. My point is that when you're hiring a position that is among the most powerful in city government, leading one of its biggest and most expensive agencies, it makes no sense to limit your choices.
The same goes for the Madison Police Department. It's a great organization with a terrific culture. It doesn't need any kind of house cleaning, and so one of the strong internal candidates that has been mentioned would be an excellent choice.
But then there's Mike Scott. A professor at the UW Law School, he is director of the Center for Problem Oriented Policing. A former cop himself and a lawyer, Scott is a smart and thoughtful person who is up to speed on virtually every innovative idea in policing. The fact that a guy like Mike Scott has expressed an interest in applying for the chief's job proves the point that it’s worth it to open the process to the broadest possible field of candidates.
The one thing I am concerned about is the lack of women in the potential field. I was surprised and disappointed not to see MPD captains Mary Schauf and Sue Williams on the list of interested internal applicants in this morning's State Journal article about the search. Either would make a great chief and I hope that they still give the commission the chance to consider them among the candidates.
After all, when it comes to choosing Madison’s next police chief, more is more.