For a long time it has seemed that Darren Pytel has been the de facto police-chief-in-waiting in Davis. The only question has been when – not if – current Chief Landy Black would retire. That time finally came officially on October 6 when Chief Landy Black confirmed many people’s beliefs and announced his formal retirement, effective December 31.
Chief Black leaves a department very different from the one he arrived at in the spring of 2007. That department was reeling both internally and externally from the controversies with the previous chief, who had divided the internal department just as much as he had divided the community. Chief Black’s legacy was restoring the professionalism and community trust to the department.
Still, given the normal slow pace of City Hall workings, the speed at which the city has approached the new chief hire is surprising. Not only has the job listing been posted, but the position is closed and they are interviewing their finalists this week.
City Manager Dirk Brazil told the Vanguard, “I’d like to think of it as efficiency rather than speed.”
He said, “(Chief) Landy (Black) was very helpful in coming to me early in my tenure with his retirement plans which allowed us to look ahead and be prepared. The day he gave me his official notice we were able to release the position for recruitment.”
Indeed, Landy Black told the Vanguard he announced his retirement on October 6, the city posted the listing on October 7, and the listing closed on October 29.
While sources indicate that the city has a number of good candidates, the odds-on favorite remains current Assistant Chief Darren Pytel. While the city manager would not disclose either the process or the finalists, Mr. Pytel himself confirmed with the Vanguard that he is a candidate for the new chief position.
In many ways, Darren Pytel is a natural fit to become the next chief. Darren Pytel grew up in Davis, joined the department in 1983 as a police cadet, and later served as a part-time reserve and bike officer before becoming a full-time police officer in 1990.
He was promoted to captain in 2007 and then to Assistant Police Chief in spring of 2013.
According to the city posting, the position pays between $140 and $170 thousand annually.
The listing reads, “The City is looking for an experienced administrator, effective leader, and a proven police manager. The ideal candidate will be approachable, honest, trustworthy, and respectful. Exceptional interpersonal skills are essential for dealing effectively with community organizations and issues.”
“The ideal candidate will be a visionary with the ability to work positively with department staff as well as the City’s Department Directors to build a viable plan for the future,” the listing continues.
But the formal requirements are interesting. According to the listing, the job requirements include, “Candidates must possess six years of increasingly responsible experience in a management capacity in a police department including four years of administrative responsibility. Candidates must possess both a POST Advanced and POST Management Certificate. A Bachelor’s degree in Public Administration, Criminal Justice, Political Science, Business Administration, or a closely related field is required. A Master’s or other advanced degree is highly desirable.”
Requiring that the candidate “must possess” both “a POST Advanced and POST Management Certificate” seems somewhat unusual in that it would appear to preclude qualified candidates from out of state.
By way of comparison, two other locales had slightly different requirements. Sacramento required, “Graduation from an accredited college or university with a Bachelor’s degree in political science, law enforcement, public or business administration, or a related field. A Master’s degree is preferred, but not required.”
For training, “Satisfactory completion of one or more approved police management training courses may be required. Approved examples include those offered by California Command College, FBI National Academy, POST Executive Development, and/or PERF Executive Leadership Institute.”
For Stockton, “Possession of P.O.S.T. advanced and management certificates is desirable.”
Did the city’s rigid wording on POST training potentially deter otherwise qualified candidates from out of state?
Dirk Brazil explained, “In order to be a peace officer in the State of California, you have to be California POST certified. That consists of attending and graduating a California POST certified Police academy. Once a person has received an academy certificate, they are eligible to apply for sworn positions in the state of California. That being said, POST does have a waiver process for individuals who meet the sworn ‘POST Basic’ criteria in another state, who would like to be certified in California.”
Mr. Brazil noted, “Our current police chief, Chief Black, was working in another state when he applied for Police Chief for City of Davis. He had to obtain the necessary waivers from CA POST in order to be eligible for the position.”
The city is clearly committed to having the next chief in place prior to Landy Black’s exit from the community. It would appear to be a surprise to all involved if the next chief is anyone but Darren Pytel. But surprises can occur, that’s why you have a full search and application process.
—David M. Greenwald reporting