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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Local talent

If Dan Dakich doesn't work out as IU basketball coach, it is being said, then of course the university must have a "nationwide search" to get the best person possible. That seems to be the big thing these days. The Indianapolis Star is also urging such a search for a public-safety vacancy:

For more than three decades, Indianapolis has filled its top police position from within the department's ranks. Now, given the spike in crime, creation of the combined Metropolitan Police Department, and the pending shift of police control back to the mayor's office, it's appropriate to give serious consideration to hiring an outside candidate to lead the force.
That's not a reflection on the qualifications of the internal candidates, including current Chief Michael Spears. But a fresh perspective, including experience combating the type of challenges now facing Indianapolis, could prove valuable.
The Star says that to be competitive, the city will likely have to increase the salary "significantly" -- nice that the paper can be so cavalier about taxpayers' money.
There are times when it makes sense to bring in an outsider. There might be two warring factions, as there frequently are in companies or government divisions, and hiring someone internally would be seen as favoring one faction over another. And in the case of basketball, the knowledge is so specialized and the pool of candidates so limited within a specficic geographic area that a nationwide search usually makes sense.
But I've always felt that bringing in an outsider (either in the private or public sector) was usually a sign that leaders weren't doing their proper job of grooming their successors. If the boss doesn't have somebody ready to take over, the boss isn't doing his job.
A police chief has to have leadership and administrative skills as they apply to police work, and a specific knowledge of local crime trends and peculiarities. Unless there are nothing but complete duds on the force, it seems to me a city would be better off with the local talent -- someone who has the knowledge but might need a little help on the rest rather than someone with management skills who would need help with the knowledge.
Posted in: Hoosier lore