After 45 minutes in executive session, the Haines Borough Assembly voted to endorse continued negotiations with Washington, D.C. security police officer Heath Scott for the community’s next chief of police. There was no public discussion about what the negotiations with Scott have entailed, or why there is still no agreement after more than a week of talks.
The agenda for Tuesday’s assembly meeting stated that the yet-to-be named police chief would be confirmed. But, after more than a week since the candidates visited Haines, interim manager Brad Ryan still hadn’t pinned down the finalist. So, the assembly went into a closed door session to discuss. When they invited the public back into the room, the motion was short with no discussion. Here’s Assemblymember Diana Lapham.
“Madam mayor, I move to confirm the manager’s decision to hire Heath Scott as chief of police for the Haines Borough.”
The motion passed 6-0.
Scott was one of three shortlisted candidates who were flown to Haines earlier this month for a series of interviews, and to meet the public.
In his interview with the Public Safety Commission, Scott said he considered himself a good motivator. He spoke about the importance of having a police officer in the school, and said he would advocate for “social media scraping” to scan for potential threats.
Since 2008, Scott has been the deputy chief at an agency called the District of Columbia Protective Services Division. According to the organization’s website, its officers are responsible for law enforcement activities and physical security of all properties under the control of the D.C. government. Here’s Scott during his May 13 interview with the commission.
“I’m the ranking uniformed official for my agency,” he told the group. “My agency would be described as a boutique agency. We take care of facilities; we take care of employees of the district government. We have 35,000 employees of the district government. We also take care of protecting the legislative and executive branch.”
Prior to his work in the nation’s capital, Scott worked as an engineer, a systems manager, and, in the mid-90s, as a police officer and deputy sheriff in Arizona. His education is focused on policing, and includes a master’s degree in criminal justice from Boston University.
He told the commission that policing is “an industry of transparency.”
“By and large, we all have to work together, especially in a community this size,” Scott said. “It’s gotta be important to everybody. We have a saying in the district, you’ve probably heard it: ‘You see something, you say something, and we fix it.’ I go beyond that: ‘You see something, you say something, you do something, you follow up on it.’”
Scott also maintained that holding onto a dedicated, qualified fleet of officers would not be cheap.
“If you pay an officer a good wage, and you continue to invest in that officer, he will cost you far less than you will be dealing with, with the attrition rate that you have now.”
The other two applicants shortlisted were Tim O’Neill, a police sergeant from Wisconsin, and Dave McKillican, the current police chief in Hoonah.
It’s unknown how close the borough is to finalizing a deal with Scott. Interim manager Ryan said Wednesday that the borough made him an offer, with a salary in the 75,000- to 95,000-dollar range, and are waiting to hear back. Scott was the top pick of the Public Safety Commission. Ryan said he decided on Scott the day before the assembly meeting and wouldn’t comment on whether Scott was his first choice.
Tuesday’s executive session also yielded an agreement that the interim manager and Mayor Jan Hill will work to finalize the contract for Bill Seward as the next borough manager. Seward is expected to take the helm at the manager’s office in about a month.