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BLOOMINGTON — Former Bloomington Police Chief Brendan Heffner is among five people who will assist City Manager Tim Gleason in selecting the city's next police chief.

Heffner, now the U.S. marshal for the Central District of Illinois, will be joined on Gleason's selection committee by Art Taylor, chairman of the Bloomington Public Safety and Community Relations Board (PSCRB), McLean County State's Attorney Don Knapp, Deputy City Manager Billy Tyus and Bloomington Economic Development Director Melissa Hon.

Police Chief Clay Wheeler, 53, announced in April that he would retire June 21. He said his retirement was prompted by his wife's cancer diagnosis about a month after he was appointed police chief in May 2018.

He succeeded Heffner, who retired after about five years as police chief to take the U.S. marshal position.

"The police chief selection is mine (to make) as city manager, but this is a decision that is so important to the community that I've already asked the PSCRB to run the lead on community outreach," Gleason said Wednesday in announcing his selection team. 

"But I don't want to hold this decision entirely at my level. I've reached out to a handful of people who I think will be tremendously valuable to the selection process," Gleason added. "They are going to help in the interview process and the eventual selection of our next police chief."

The city is conducting a national search for Wheeler's replacement. The application period will close Sunday.

Gleason said more than 40 candidates from across the United States already have applied. 

"The majority of those meet the qualifications. I am hoping to narrow (the field of applicants) to six to 10 candidates to interview two weeks from now," said Gleason. Those interviews likely will occur July 17-19, he added. 

"If things go well we'll have two or three candidates emerge as the selection committee's true finalists, and then do a second round interviews, if  necessary."

Gleason hopes to have the finalists do a meet-and-greet with the community the week of Aug. 5.

"While I am not locked into this, I envision the candidates to be able to have three or five minutes, with a (microphone) in hand, to share who they are and then after that have each of the candidates staged in a certain location where community members or groups can talk to the candidate one-on-one," said Gleason. "The candidates would each make some very brief closing comments. The selection committee would convene and identify the selected candidate.

"Ideally ... we would have somebody in place in a permanent position by mid September," said Gleason. "But we'll sort of roll with how things progress."

"I am very honored to be asked by Mr. Gleason to serve on the selection committee, and I told him we wouldn't let him down; that we would go through the selection process and find the right candidate to recommend to him," said Taylor.

"I was listening to what members of the community were looking forward to and I am going to use some of that feedback as we look at the candidates," said Taylor. "Hopefully, some (of the canditates) will fit those bills and be able to give us what we need here in Bloomington in  the way of a well-rounded police chief who will serve the community well." 

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Contact Maria Nagle at (309) 820-3244. Follow her on Twitter: @Pg_Nagle

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Bloomington Reporter

Bloomington reporter for The Pantagraph.

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