Lewin wasn’t top selection for two of three interview groups; Board of Fire and Police Commissioners offer six-month probationary contract


Fire and Police Commissioners — from left, Steve Meckes, Barry Cheyne and Mike McLaughlin — conduct a meeting Monday at City Hall. Facing the commissioners is city attorney Ryan Schnack. At the end of the table is Alyssa Ramsey, executive assistant to Mayor Mike Troup. | David Adam

QUINCY — Two of the three groups that interviewed the three candidates for the chief of the Quincy Police Department did not list Jonathan Lewin as its top choice.

Nonetheless, the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners Monday selected Lewin, a 28-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department, to replace Rob Copley, who is retiring May 6 after 42 years with the Quincy Police Department and 18 as the chief of police. The other candidates were Shannon Pilkington, deputy chief of operations with the Quincy Police Department, and Adam Yates, deputy chief of administrative services with the Quincy Police Department.

The commissioners offered Lewin a six-month probationary appointment to the position after he completes a background check and a medical screening. If he doesn’t pass those requirements, Yates will be named the chief.

Commissioner Barry Cheyne declined to answer questions about Lewin’s hire or the conclusion of the search process that started in early February. Commissioner Steve Meckes, however, said the six-month probationary appointment was offered because Lewin and Yates were “exceedingly close in terms of their scores.”

“In addition, Mr. Lewin, although a brilliant and accomplished man, has not been in a line position for more than 25 years,” Meckes said. “Command (and) police department responsibilities are certainly different than staff responsibilities. We want to make sure he is up to the challenges of taking command of this police department.”

Troup said he, along with other city staff members, will be responsible for the compensation and benefits offer made to Lewin.

“The length of time (for the contract) is something that the commissioners handle,” he said. “I don’t have a problem (with the length). I’m probably going to be coming in and saying, ‘Let’s extend this.’ That would be my hope for how it turns out. I mean, with all the testing, the questioning, the evaluations that have gone on to this point, I’d be surprised if somebody was missed. Could it happen? Yes, but it’s not disturbing to have a short time window. I think that’s just a safety net.”

Pilkington, Yates congratulate Lewin on appointment

Lewin has not yet replied to an email request for an interview.

Pilkington, a member of the Quincy Police Department since 1999, congratulated Lewin.

“I wish him all the luck,” he said. “I hope we can work together and continue the work we’re doing to make this a better police department.

“The process is what it is. I couldn’t have given any more to the (search process).”

Yates said he called Lewin Monday to wish him the best.

“To say I was disappointed is accurate,” Yates said. “I put a lot of hard work into not only my career but this particular process. I was hopeful to get the opportunity to lead the department. But I’ve said from the very beginning that the only wish that I have for the process is for it to produce the best possible candidate for the chief of police position.

“I look forward to working with (Lewin). I want him to be successful. I’m going to support him. I’m going to help him be successful. The more successful he is, the more successful the Quincy Police Department is going to be and the more successful the city of Quincy is going to be.”

Meckes: Yates was top pick of commissioners, police chiefs

The commissioners approved a motion during Monday’s meeting to make public the overall scoring sheet for the police chief candidates, as well as the individual scoring sheets of the members of each group that took part in the interviews. City attorney Ryan Schnack said he would check to see if they could legally make those sheets public.

However, Meckes said after Monday’s meeting that the Illinois Police Chiefs Association and the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners were unanimous in their selections of Yates as the top candidate for the position.

“And Troup’s hand-selected group of stakeholders was unanimous in selecting Jonathan Lewin,” Meckes said. “So, there was a division among the groups.”

Meckes said each group ranked the candidates from first to third. The rankings from the stakeholder group and the commissioners both were multiplied by 0.4. The rankings from the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police were multiplied by 0.2.

When asked what the division of the groups says about the selection process, Meckes said, “I don’t know if I can answer that question. I think that’s a question probably better asked of the mayor. The two groups who work most closely with police chiefs and in the local police department went one way, and the mayor went a different way.”

Ranking of police chief candidates

Lewin rankYates rankPilkington rank
Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police (20 percent)2 x 0.2 = 0.41 x 0.2 = 0.23 x 0.2 = 0.6
Board of Police and Fire Commissioners (40 percent)2 x 0.4 = 0.81 x 0.4 = 0.43 x 0.4 = 1.2
Stakeholder group (40 percent)1 x 0.4 = 0.43 x 0.4 = 1.22 x 0.4 = 0.8
Total score (lowest score wins)

Troup: Stakeholders were ‘unanimous’ with Lewin as top pick

Troup said the Illinois Police Chiefs Association had Yates as the top candidate and “Lewin right below. It was very close.”

“(During Friday’s interviews with the stakeholders’ group) it seemed to Shannon did a better job in the questioning than Adam,” Troup said. “Just based off the questions and the answers they get, yeah, I was actually surprised.

“Usually, you don’t get everybody who’s doing the interviewing to agree with who their first choice is, but it was interesting that our stakeholder group did that. Somebody, I can’t remember now who, said, ‘I just want to let you know, here’s my picks in order.’ And then someone else said, ‘Well, that’s mine, too.’ I guess we were unanimous as the top choices. I don’t know if that’s good or bad, but at least without any discussion, that’s where it turned out.”

The Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police conducted a day-long assessment April 9 in Quincy and selected the three finalists. Assessors from the IACP were:

  • Ed Wojcicki, executive director of the IACP;
  • Kenny Winslow, deputy executive director of the IACP and recently retired chief of police in Springfield;
  • Jerel Jones, chief of police in Macomb;
  • Darren Gault, chief of police in Moline.

Troup picked five members of stakeholder group

The candidates then met with the police staff and took part in a community forum on Thursday. Fire and police commissioners (Cheyne, Meckes and Mike McLaughlin) interviewed the candidates on Friday, as well as a five-person stakeholder group comprised of:

  • Troup;
  • Alderman Mike Rein (R-5);
  • Alderman Jack Holtschlag (D-7);
  • Angela Caldwell, director of workforce development for the Great River Economic Development Foundation; and
  • Julie Bonansinga, president of Bonansinga & Associates, LLC, Inter-Connect Employment Services LLC and Industrial Workforce Ltd.

When the Fire and Police Commission went through the process to hire Bernie Vahlkamp as the fire chief last year, the commissioners selected the members of the stakeholder group that interviewed the final candidates.

Troup picked the five members of the stakeholder group for police chief interviews.

“It was the most significant change in the process,” Meckes said. “It was done to address concerns the mayor had about not having sufficient input into the selection. We recommended certain people to participate on the stakeholder group, all of which were rejected by the mayor. He chose the people he wanted to be on the stakeholder group.

“At the same time, I think the process worked in that we had three excellent candidates who went through the interview process.”

Troup thought stakeholder group ‘worked well together’

Troup said one of his issues during the selection of the fire chief was that he had no input on the stakeholder group.

“Look, if you’re calling it the mayor’s stakeholder group, you ought to let the mayor pick who’s on that stakeholder group,” he said. “As an example, they had different aldermen who they had suggested. I picked Rein as a Republican alderman because he’s chair of the police aldermanic committee. I picked Jack as the Democratic alderman because he’s the second-longest-serving Democratic alderman (and) because (Alderman) Dave Bauer is helping with the airport director search.

“Angela’s strong. She’s been in the community a long time and also is involved with the training and hiring of different people. Jim Rubottom (vice president of human resources at Knapheide Manufacturing) had agreed to serve, and unfortunately, he had a death of an out-of-town relative, so he stepped down. The commissioners recommended some other people, but once Jim notified me, I called Julie. I liked the (human resources) background. She interviews people on a regular basis for executive positions.

“As a stakeholder group, we worked well together.”

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