STIRLING – The Stirling-Rawdon police board  is moving into the next chapter of the search for a new police chief, with the community’s opinions in mind.
Residents of Stirling were invited to a public meeting on Tuesday night to discuss with the mayor and police board what they would like to see in a new chief.
The town’s search for a new chief comes after previous chief Brian Foley’s  contract was not renewed. There had been controversy over his previous contract and well-reported friction between the chief and some board members.
The room at the town’s police building Tuesday was filled with concerned members of the public. The head of the board, Tara Dier, said the meeting exceeded her expectations.
“I think it went well. The community came out in numbers, well beyond our expectations. They listened, they had things to say, and I hope it was helpful to them. It was certainly helpful to us,” said Dier.
Residents had plenty to say and shared different opinions on what they want to see in a chief. But one thing that almost everyone in the room expressed was that the chief needs to be visible in the community.
Stirling resident Cindy Brandt put an emphasis on community involvement.
“They need to be involved in the community, they need to engage in what’s going on in the community, they need to know the people in the community to survive,” Brandt said.
She added that it might not be an easy task.
“I think that you’ll never get perfect – that’s in your dreams. But you need to get someone that works for our community, and that’s going to be a huge task.”
While most people said they want to see the chief often, others, like resident Matt Dejong, said their priority is to have a chief who is effective in the office.
“The community stuff is a great bonus to me. Everyone here probably wants them to be a community guy (but) I want the paper done right,” said Dejong.
Most of the things that members of the community said they want to see in a new chief were qualities that the board had already listed at the start of the meeting. Mayor Rodney Cooney  says the search is becoming clearer.
“Everything that they have brought forward has been basically the same as what we have. I think we’re close,” Cooney said.
Dier said she had the same impression.
“The indication that we got was that we are on the right path. I was encouraged by what people had to say.”
She and the rest of the board plan to have a new chief hired within the next four months. Dier said the meeting had helped put together an idea of what they are looking for.
“The direction now is for the board to sit down and craft some documents that reflect what we think the job is, and reflects what we’re looking for.”