WILKES-BARRE — The search for a new police chief is wrapping up after nearly a month, and the field has been narrowed to two, said city Administrator Ted Wampole.
”We have finished all of the interviews and we are in discussions with two of the finalists,” Wampole said Friday without identifying the candidates.
Wampole added that Mayor Tony George, who is authorized by the city charter to appoint the chief and other department heads, is involved in those discussions.
But as of Friday, Wampole said he did not know if a decision would be made before the June 3 retirement of Chief Marcella Lendacky. The mayor has said if necessary, he would ask her to stay on until a new chief is in place.
Lendacky, who has 29 years on the force, gave notice in April of her retirement from her $95,481-a-year job after the release of a report critical of her management style.
The independent review requested by city council and conducted by the Harrisburg-based Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association concluded Lendacky and her second-in-command Ron Foy lacked the professional qualifications for their leadership positions and were largely responsible for the rift between the police administration and rank-and-file officers.
The mayor has since eliminated Foy’s $82,154-a-year commander of patrol post in a restructuring of the department and demoted him to detective, the job he held before his senior-level appointment.
The city advertised for the chief’s position and attracted 13 applicants from both within the department and across the country by the May 8 response deadline. One person withdrew prior to the start of interviews by a four-member committee that includes Wampole, city Attorney Tim Henry, councilman and former Wilkes-Barre police chief Bill Barrett, and retired Wilkes-Barre Police Capt. Tom Merlie.
George, who will make the final decision, is also a former city police chief.
Reach Jerry Lynott at 570-991-6120 or on Twitter @TLJerryLynott.