BPD chief selection, thrown off its timeline, still weeks away

Local News

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Bakersfield was looking for a police chief about this time last month. Not a lot of progress has been made for reasons most people will find understandable.

But there has been progress in the city’s quest to find a successor for Lyle Martin, who left the job in late December.

According to the city charter, Bakersfield was supposed to have named a new police chief within 60 days of Lyle Martin’s departure. There was a complication, however. The City Manager post was vacant at the time, and that’s the person who makes the final decision. 

No sooner did Christian Clegg move from Stockton to Bakersfield to assume that role, the COVID-19 crisis took off, and the discussion about a chief of police came to a near halt.

“Unlike many of our other employee recruitments, the chief of police recruitment is still a high priority for us so it’s moving forward for us,” Clegg said Friday. “With the COVID-19 response we’ve lost a little bit of time, in the timeline that we expected”Instead of the oral board being this week it’s going to be next week, and then following that oral board, the finalists names will come back to me for final interviews and we expect in the next few weeks to have a final decision,” Clegg said. 

But will the interviews and deliberations be face to face, presumably with six feet of space around everyone, or via something like Skype? Steve Anderson of S.A. Anderson Construction, who heads the Bakersfield Police Commission, said he in favor of face to face meetings, observing, of course, proper social distancing guidelines.

Those initial reviews will eventually produce a ranking of the candidates, and City Manager Clegg will presumably take those into account when he conducts the final interviews.

Observers said that might not be until the end of April, potentially even early May, meaning Bakersfield will have gone without a permanent police chief for close to four months. 

It’s just another consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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