By Yadira Betances
---- — LAWRENCE — So far, nine people have personally met with Mayor William Lantigua or submitted resumes for the chance to succeed police Chief John Romero, Lantigua said yesterday.
“At the end, I will make the ultimate decision,” Lantigua said in an interview with The Eagle-Tribune.
“I’m not going to rush it. Although Romero is retiring on Sept. 3, I want to choose the best person for the job and our city,” Lantigua said, adding that he wants the next chief to oversee the construction of a new police station.
The Lawrence Police Department has 120 officers and two-thirds of the current department members have served under Romero since he arrived from New York City 15 years ago.
“I’m looking for a chief that has good leadership skills and who will continue Romero’s legacy and be ready to make reforms if they are needed,” Lantigua said in an interview with The Eagle-Tribune.
Romero, 63, announced on July 12 he will retire Sept. 3.
“I think its a great job, but you can’t do it forever,” Romero said.
Lantigua and Romero both said the law enforcement officials who have so far shown interest in the job, have pushed aside concerns about the city’s rough reputation.
“A lot of people know that the bad reputation is unwarranted, which is why they have shown an interested in the position,” Lantigua said.
“The perception of Lawrence as being an unsafe city is not true. Lawrence is a great city made up of great, hard-working people who want to live the American dream,” Romero said.
Lantigua said the position was advertised right after Romero made his decision public. Among those interested include sergeants, and former and current police chiefs. Lantigua said he has a committee helping him check the resumes and advise him.
Lantigua said Romero is offering his advise and that he is taking Romero’s opinions into consideration.
Whoever succeeds Romero will move into a police station which has not been updated since it was built in 1965.
“I want the new chief to help me with the construction of a new station,” Lantigua said.