10:00 PM PST on Saturday, January 15, 2011

By JAN SEARS
The Press-Enterprise

The search for a new police chief in Redlands will begin with the department’s current leaders, the city manager says.

Jim Bueermann, a 32-year department veteran who had been chief since 1998, retired at the end of December. He is staying on under contract until the end of June while a new chief is sought.

City Manager Enrique Martinez, whose responsibilities include hiring city department heads, said his goal is to maintain the department’s progressive culture and philosophy of working closely with residents.

Safety cited

“People come to Redlands because it is safe, and it is safe because of the Police Department,” he said during a City Council meeting this month.

A new chief could be named by July, he said.

Budget cuts since 2007 have had a big effect on the department, where many of the officers who became top managers were hired in the late 1970s. Most have retired.

Apart from Bueermann, the department’s managers now all are lieutenants, city spokesman Carl Baker said.

“We have three lieutenants who have been in those positions for about 18 months,” Martinez said. “The time on (those jobs) and the grade are not what we’d like to see, but these individuals have grown up in the department. So there is a small cadre that might be good candidates for chief.”

Martinez said that given the city’s tight budget, he was not inclined to hire a search firm at a cost of $20,000 to $25,000.

The first step in the search will be to determine the qualities desired in a new chief, he said. The potential candidates then will be interviewed to determine whether they are interested in competing for the post.

Martinez said three small panels — of police peers, department heads and residents — will then interview the candidates and share their findings with him.

“I would decide which person fits what we need in Redlands,” he said. “If this process is successful, we could have a new chief by July 1.”

If it doesn’t work out, it might be necessary to look outside the city, but any outsider would be hired on a temporary basis, he said.

Council members said it’s important to them to maintain the department’s current philosophy.

A council role

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