EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

February 23, 2013

Keefe selected through "assessment" trials

ANDOVER — A $15,000 fee paid to a New Hampshire company helped lead Andover to its next police chief, using two days of focus groups, interviews and role-playing exercises.

Municipal Resources, Inc. in Meredith, N.H. was the firm that helped town officials line up three internal candidates vying to replace retiring Police Chief Brian Pattullo when he retires July 31. They did so through an “assessment center” that narrowed three hopeful candidates down to one sure-fire leader.

Coming out of the process, the town offered the job to Andover Police Sgt. Pat Keefe, a 15-year veteran of the police force and lieutenant colonel in the National Guard.

Keefe, along with the other two unidentified candidates, went through the same process that Pattullo said he underwent in 1998 when he first eyed the police chief gig.

“In both cases, there was focus groups that were put together to see what the community was looking for in a police chief, and how the community felt with the police department at the time,” he said. “It also identified problems and issues in the department.”

To start the process, MRI employees met with department heads, a focus group of residents, business people and more “to develop a profile for the next chief,” Town Manager Reginald “Buzz” Stapczynski said.

From there, the group took the needs identified by the focus group and assembled a series of exercises to test the candidates in those areas.

One of them was called “the in-basket,” Stapczynski said.

“You have to leave in two hours to catch a plane. You can’t miss it,” he said. “They hit him with 12 things, a couple of memos, a couple of reports and perhaps some phone calls to return.”

While the exercise goes on and the candidates manages his or her time, the group then introduced some “crises that would make them rethink if they want to go on the vacation,” Stapczynski said.

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