By Keith Regan, Community Reporter
Northborough – The Board of Selectmen will have additional opportunities to observe the process that will lead to the selection of the next police sergeant from a pool of nine potential candidates.
Selectmen discussed the selection process with Chief Mark Leahy during their meeting June 8, agreeing to include a formal simulation assessment center process for the first time in addition to written tests and oral interviews. Assessment centers put candidates through a number of real-life scenarios that can help shed light on how they handle pressure and react to the unexpected, better than written tests or oral interviews, Leahy said. Costs for the assessments typically run a couple of thousand dollars per candidate, but because such appointments happen so rarely, the costs should not be an issue, Town Administrator John Coderre said.
Selectman Dawn Rand also asked whether the board could be more involved in the process that leads to a candidate being brought to the board for appointment, suggesting that two or three finalist candidates be presented to the board instead.
“I would feel more comfortable if I was privy to what was going on,” Rand said. “As a selectman I feel like all I do is rubber stamp the appointments.”
Leahy noted that the current process has been in place for 12 years and that in the past the board had decided it did not want multiple candidates brought forward. Typically one member of the board has sat in on the screening for such positions.
“At the end of the day I just want the best possible person,” Leahy said. “If you want to change the process after 12 years, that’s your purview.”
Board members were split on whether to alter the procedure. “I’m not sure what we’re trying to fix here,” said Chair Jeff Amberson. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
In the end, the board agreed to a process that gave them more opportunities to observe the selection process as it unfolded, including possibly observing the assessments themselves.
Rand emphasized she wasn’t being critical of past appointments. “I don’t question the process and I don’t think anything has been bad,” she said. “There have been various interactions the board has had with some of the nine (eligible candidates) and feel it would be better if the board was able to have more of a choice.”
In other business, the board accepted the first donation to the town’s 250th Anniversary celebration. Republic Servicesthe town’s solid waste disposal contractordonated $1,200 to the committee overseeing the celebration, which will feature events throughout 2016.