The authority to appoint East Palo Alto's new police chief will remain with the city manager, the City Council agreed on Tuesday night.
The discussion was prompted by an ambiguity in the city's Municipal Code, which gives both the council and the city manager authority to make the hire. East Palo Alto has been seeking a new police chief since November 2013, when Ron Davis resigned to take a job as director of the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services in Washington.
Since then, the city has had a procession in interim police chiefs. In August, officials introduced to the community the three candidates for a permanent new chief: retired San Jose Police Captain Brian Ferrante, Dublin Police Chief Thomas McCarthy and retired San Francisco Police Department veteran Albert Pardini.
The police chief is one of two top City Hall positions that have been in flux in recent months. The Council decided last month not to renew the contract of City Manager Magda Gonzalez, who went on to assume the same position in Half Moon Bay. Carlos Martinez, the city's economic development director, was appointed earlier this month as the interim city manager while the city searches for a permanent replacement.
The Council on Tuesday agreed that the city manager should retain the function of hiring a police chief, said John Doughty, the city's director of community development and acting city manager. Because the Municipal Code is ambiguous, the Council on December passed a resolution that explicitly gives the city manager the authority to make the appointment. The resolution also specifies that the community and the City Council be "involved in the interview process for the number of finalists as determined by the City Council.
"The council affirmed the existing position -- that the city manager appoints the police chief," Doughty said.
Doughty said it will be up to the city manager to determine the timeline for filling the high-profile position. The Council also discussed on Tuesday the creation of public process associated with the search, he said.