MOLINE -- The search for a police chief has been put on hold until a new city administrator is hired.
Former Police Chief John Hitchcock retired Oct. 15 after he was placed on administrative leave following his arrest for driving under the influence the evening of Sept. 7 in Scott County. He became chief in January 2018.
Former City Administrator Doug Maxeiner resigned suddenly Jan. 22, but settled with the city on a separation agreement that includes a severance payout of 20 weeks of pay, or $62,505. He became administrator in May 2017.
Mayor Stephanie Acri said the administrator position should be filled first since the chief of police reports to the administrator.
"We thought it was important not only for the administrator to be able to choose their team, but also for such an important position as police chief, to come into the organization understanding who they will report to," Acri said.
"If we can't quickly recruit a new city administrator, we may make an adjustment on that," Acri said.
Public Works Director J.D. Schulte is serving as interim city administrator.
Robert Finney has been serving as interim police chief since Hitchcock's departure. Finney retired as Champaign's chief of police in 2012 and was recommended by the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police. Finney will return to the Champaign area once a new chief is hired.
The police chief search was well under way, with 48 people from 15 states applying to be the city’s next chief. The field was narrowed to eight finalists in early January, three of whom are internal candidates.
Acri said the finalists were notified the search for a police chief was put on hold. She said the city hired GovHR to assist in finding a new administrator through a targeted search.
"GovHR knows what candidates are out there and they know what we're looking for because they are familiar with our organization," Acri said. "The targeted search is the plan right now."
Ald. Mike Wendt, Ward 3, said city leaders are comfortable keeping Finney in place until a city administrator is found, who can then assist with the search for a police chief.
"I think we've got full confidence in the current acting police chief," Wendt said. "He's terrific; he's really stepped up to the plate and has done an amazing job.
"The city administrator is accountable directly to the council," Wendt said. "That individual will then be able to hire staff. Taking this step is the right thing to do considering the police chief will report to the city administrator."