Tuesday, October 2, 2007

John Morrissey accepts offer to be Kenosha's new chief of police

The Kenosha Police and Fire Commission wrapped up interviewing the three finalists to be the next police chief and offered the job to Capt. John Morrissey.

Morrissey accepted the offer which must be formally acted on by the commission on Oct. 9.

Every candidate the commission considered was qualified and picking from the three finalists was almost certainly a tough task but giving the nod to Morrissey suggests that the commission expects the new chief to be visible in the community.

All three finalists were roughly equal in terms of qualifications and I considered Morrissey and Asst. Chief Thomas Genthner to be pretty much neck-and-neck. In particular, Morrissey had experience as a small-town chief in south central Wisconsin before coming to Kenosha while Genthner has been an assistant chief for several years.

Either could have worked well with the city council and community groups but Morrissey is a much "higher profile" individual. As such, the commission appears to have signalled that they expect the new chief to be more visible in the community.

The commission may also have been thinking that with Morrissey as chief the city will score a "win-win" because he'll have Genthner and Asst. Chief William Brydges, who was not a finalist, as his very well-qualified top guns.

Of course, Capt. Kristine Fonk, who was the third finalist, almost certainly has earned some capital as well as support in the community. While she didn't get the chief's job, Morrissey would do well to curry her wisdom and support.

As for me, I encourage Morrissey to move cautiously, expeditiously and collaboratively with any changes he may have in mind. He's inheriting the command of a good police department but also one that is ripe for some tweaking. He'll do well to enlist the assistance of everyone working under him to do what needs to be done -- and he'll also be wise to keep the lines of communication flowing in both directions.

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