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Police chief makes bid to take helm in Fire Department, too

Jan. 11, 2011

Police Chief Barry Weber wants to expand his leadership role to cover all the city's emergency services.

He has applied to become the next Wauwatosa fire chief.

The city hired a recruitment firm, Voorhees & Associates, to field applications and narrow down the candidate pool. More than 30 people submitted resumes and the Wauwatosa Police and Fire Commission has scheduled final interviews for Feb. 15.

"Any one has the right to apply, and all those applicants will get thorough consideration," Mayor Jill Didier said.

Didier, City Administrator James Archambo, Common Council President Eric Meaux and the aldermen who helm the Budget and Finance and Employee Relations committees - Brian Ewerdt and Peter Donegan - pitched for Weber to take over temporarily as interim chief.

Ultimately, the commission chose Assistant Fire Chief Michael Anton to lead the department until a permanent replacement is found.

"The Police and Fire Commission, I don't believe gave real credence to the recommendation," Didier said.

If the commission deems Weber the best candidate for the permanent post, the city likely would consider a change in job description to make the job that of public safety administrator, she said.

Other communities have instituted such positions, but it is not the norm.

Oconomowoc as well as Howard and Ashwaubenon have public safety directors. When creating such a position, some communities have argued it creates cost savings because it allows fewer management positions and a closer working relationship between police and fire operations.

Weber declined to comment at this time, saying he prefers to save his comments for the interview process.

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