Portland Police Headquarters
The Portland Police Department has been headquartered at 109 Middle St. for almost 50 years. (Portland Phoenix/Evan Edmonds)
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Portland has hired a search firm to begin looking for a permanent police chief to fill a role held by interim staff for over a year.

The city hired the Illinois-based consulting firm GovHR in November to help lead their search for the next police chief. The firm specializes in recruitment for executive level positions, interim staffing, and consulting. 

A police chief nomination will come from interim City Manager Danielle West’s office. The police chief doesn’t report to the City Council, but the Council must confirm the finalist’s appointment, according to city code.

The position has been filled by Interim Chief Heath Gorham for over a year. Gorham took over the position from former Chief Frank Clark, who abruptly retired in November 2021 to take a job in the private sector.

Gorham, who was assistant chief before the interim appointment, is the fourth police chief since 2018 for Portland. A police department spokesperson said Gorham will not confirm whether he plans to apply for the permanent position until the job is actually posted.

West is also on an interim basis, having taken over for former City Manager Jon Jennings also in November 2021. West said in September that “the process is taking longer than expected.” This is still the “very early” stages, and there will be community outreach to ensure the right candidate is selected, the city manager said.

West initially delayed hiring a new police chief because she wanted that responsibility to go to a permanent city manager. Since that process would have been affected by the Charter Commission proposals on the November ballot, West decided to begin in August.

The city will pay GovHR, a recruitment and consulting firm in Northbrook, Illinois, a fee of roughly $23,500 to conduct the search. GovHR was one of six proposals the city received, and will help create a position description and advertise the job. GovHR also bid to be the search firm for Portland’s city manager search, though the city ultimately selected a different firm, Baker Tilly. 

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