City of Austin Taps Ralph Andersen and Associates to Recruit Police Chief

March 23, 2021 – The public sector is in the midst of major transformation. It faces an array of challenges that range from shifting public expectations to budgetary pressures and a growing demand for operational efficiency. To successfully navigate these issues, government organizations need leaders who are focused, tenacious, and adaptable, report recruiters, with the capacity to deal with significant scale, complexity, and ambiguity.

Executive recruitment firm Ralph Andersen and Associates was recently selected to lead a national search for a new chief of police for the city of Austin, TX. “The role of police chief is incredibly important not just to the city organization, but to our community as a whole,” said Spencer Cronk, Austin city manager. “I hope through this process that we collectively find the ideal candidate – one who collaborates with our community, instills trust in the workforce, works to achieve results from established council policy, creates a culture of improvement and accountability, and is willing and able to lead the department in ways that lead to equitable public safety outcomes for all.” The city manager said he is determined that the search be a transparent and inclusive process that relies heavily on extensive engagement with the community as well as with the city’s leadership, and the employees of the police department. “My goal throughout is to ensure our residents are heard in who they want to see lead our police department,” Mr. Cronk said.

Ralph Andersen & Associates, which has assisted 35 other cities in hiring their police chiefs across the country since 2016, will facilitate the process to find Austin’s next chief of police. The firm said this will consist of three phases:

Phase I: Project Management & Candidate Profile Developed (March/April)  

  • Creation of a candidate profile, the guiding document for the search, detailing desired attributes in candidates and challenges and opportunities for the next chief.
  • Input gathered from virtual open meetings with the community and meetings with representatives of the many diverse communities and interests in Austin, including city leadership and employees across the police department.

 Phase II: Outreach and Recruiting (April/May/June)   

  • Input taken from the broader Austin community through a community survey, with the results informing next steps.
  • Search firm to conduct extensive recruiting and outreach across the nation and, where applicable, beyond, before evaluating candidates, conducting preliminary research and making recommendations.

Phase III: Selection (July/August)  

  • Top candidates interviewed by panels including community, city leadership and police department viewpoints.
  • Finalists to participate in further interviews and meetings to introduce them to the Austin community, with feedback aiding the final selection.
  • Final vetting and selection of the top candidate.

The city manager said that the recruitment process comes at a critical time for the community and the Austin Police Department, as the city, council, and community work together to reimagine public safety and implement policy and cultural changes to address the disproportionate impact of police violence on people of color and other affected communities.

“While change can be difficult and uncomfortable, it also brings opportunity. Like so many communities across the nation, we have heard our community call for transformational change in the area of public safety,” said Mr. Cronk. “The reimagining public safety process, budget decoupling and department restructuring and, most recently, the announcement of chief Brian Manley’s retirement, provide a unique opportunity to work with our community to bring new leadership that aligns with our values and our commitment to equity and community engagement.”

Veteran Search Consultants

Founded in 1972, Ralph Andersen and Associates provides executive search and consulting services to an array of cities, counties, special districts, state agencies and other organizations. Heather Renschler serves as president and CEO of the firm. Her career with the firm’s executive search and consulting practice spans over three decades. She has overseen the national recruitment practice for the last 20 years.

In her role, Ms. Renschler serves as project director and lead consultant on high-profile national recruitments, including many of a sensitive and critical nature. She works directly with city managers, city councils, board of directors, and other governing boards during the recruitment and selection process, dealing directly with the client on all aspects of the search process. Ms. Renschler’s widespread network of contacts and potential candidates extends throughout the nation, expanding internationally in the transportation and aviation sectors.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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