Vinton Police adopt new promotion process

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Vinton’s new Deputy Chief of Police Fabricio Drumond was chosen in a new promotion process introduced by Chief of Police Tom Foster.

Captain Fabricio Drumond, who has served as a police officer in Vinton since 2009, was recently appointed Deputy Chief of Police. He will be responsible for assisting in the overall administration of the department to include directing departmental operations, overseeing administrative services, and facilitating community outreach programs.

He was not chosen solely by Police Chief Tom Foster, Vinton Town Council, or a committee. His promotion was the result of a new procedure put in place to make the promotion process more objective– and also more rigorous.

Chief Foster announced to his department that the position of deputy chief was being re-established and invited interested officers to apply. Those who applied then participated in a two-day interview and selection process in January beginning with an interview panel comprised of five members.

The panelists for the interviews on Day One included the president of the Roanoke Valley NAACP, the chair of the Administration of Justice Program at Virginia Western Community College, a retired police chief, a police captain and acting police chief from the Lexington Police Department, and a lieutenant from the Roanoke County Sheriff’s Office.

Each panel member asked a predetermined question pertaining to one of several subject areas. All candidates were asked the same five questions assessing them on Teambuilding and Sociality Skills, Research and Analytical Skills, Leadership Skills, Initiative or Motivational Skills, and Focused Emphasis Skills.

The interview portion of the process was worth 40 of 100 points.

On Day Two, the candidates were provided with a portion of a criminal case file to review and prepare a written press release.  Each candidate had 45 minutes to review the case file and write the release.

The candidates were then escorted to council chambers where they were instructed to deliver their press release and answer questions from a three-person assessment panel.  The panel was comprised of Amy Whitaker, Roanoke County Public Information Officer, Sergeant Richard Garlettes, Virginia State Police Public Information Officer, and Debbie Adams from The Vinton Messenger.

The mock “press conferences” were recorded on camera by RVTV. The panel assessed the written press release and the press conference with a point value of 20 points each for a total of 40.

The remaining 20 points of the 100 possible were awarded based on college education and degrees obtained, and time served in a supervisory capacity with the department.

That final phase of the process is dictated by department policy. The policy states the chief of police “will review the candidates’ past performance evaluations, education level (civilian and technical), physical fitness level, experience and seniority, and the recommendation of the board.”

After completing these steps, the selection of the deputy chief was finalized by reviewing all of the results with Donna Collins, the Director of Human Resources, and Town Manager Barry Thompson. As dictated by policy, the final decision on this promotion was made by the chief of police.

Deputy Chief Drumond says that he actually enjoyed the new promotion process while finding it extremely challenging. He describes it as “out of the norm, creative, well-thought out in development, and realistic to actual police work.”

There was no way to study as the candidates had no idea what the process was going to be or what they were walking into until they arrived for the interviews.

Chief Foster gave them two instructions beforehand: to know the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) well and to “reflect” on their past experiences– successes and failures– and their professional and personal goals.

Drumond said the process was very dynamic and tailored to the deputy chief leadership position. It was meant to reveal whether candidates had the experience and skills necessary for the position.

While the interviews on the first day involved only five questions, each question was loaded with a host of other questions, which required candidates to understand what they were being asked and to retain the information in some logical order in order to respond coherently.

He said the interview portion of the process took about 90 minutes, with no time to sit and plan responses. They were asked the questions and immediately answered, reaching into their past experiences in law enforcement and their knowledge of and experience with community policing.

As for the press release and press conference, Drumond said candidates had no idea what that was would entail either. They were given a packet with instructions to read the case file and produce a written press release in a very limited amount of time. They had no idea what else was to ensue with mock reporters and a TV camera. They did each possess the background to know that when dealing with the press they should stick to the facts and not offer up their own opinions.

Chief Foster had high praise for the officers who applied and described them as a “group of highly qualified candidates.” He said he received positive comments from all the candidates who applied and completed the process.

“I think they felt it created a ‘real world’ scenario, that made them draw on their training and experience and make decisions under pressure,” said Foster. “All of the candidates did very well and worked very hard over the two-day process.”

The police department plans to continue the process and adapt it to other promotions as they come up. The town also plans to adopt the same procedure for panel interviews.