During its last regular meeting, the Ukiah City Council approved the hiring of a Placer County firm to assist in the search for a new, permanent chief of the Ukiah Police Department.
According to the staff report for the item, which was approved as part of the Consent Calendar for the Sept. 7 meeting, three firms responded to the city’s request for proposals: Peckham-McKenney, SGR, and Mosaic Public Partners.
Staff members and the council ad-hoc committee tasked with overseeing the search, made up of council members Jim O. Brown and Mari Rodin, reviewed the proposals and “conducted an informational interview with the top-rated firm, Mosaic Public Partners,” which is located in Lincoln, Calif.
The agenda report notes that “Mosaic’s approach, confirmed by their interview, is responsive and transparent, with a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. The first step of the process will be to work with the ad hoc committee and identified stakeholders to develop a candidate profile that reflects the community’s and the organization’s needs. Then, a targeted search will be undertaken based on that input, followed by an interview process that will also involve the diverse group of stakeholders.”
Staff also note that while “the contract with Mosaic falls beneath the city’s reporting requirements, a budget amendment is required to cover the cost of the contract, plus additional costs that may be associated with the recruitment. Therefore, staff is recommending a budget amendment to the Human Resources Contractual Services budget in the amount of $38,000.”
The city has had three police chiefs in the past four years, and is searching for a new chief less than a year after naming Capt. Noble Waidelich to replace Justin Wyatt in the fall of 2021. Waidelich, a longtime employee who rose through the ranks to become second-in-command upon the retirement of Capt. Sean Kaeser in late 2020, was fired in June for reasons that the city has yet to disclose to the public.
When announcing that Waidelich was placed on administrative leave on June 14, the city of Ukiah described the move as “pending an ongoing criminal investigation led by (the) Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office. Because this is both a pending personnel and criminal matter, no further information may be disclosed by the city at this time.”
When contacted for more information regarding the case at the time, SCSO spokesman Sgt. Juan Valencia released this statement: “On June 13, 2022, an allegation of criminal conduct involving Ukiah Police Chief Noble Waidelich was reported to the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office. Due to the close working relationship between the MCSO and the UPD, Mendocino County Sheriff (Matt) Kendall requested the SCSO conduct the investigation for transparency purposes.”
The statement continues: “Upon completion of the investigation, the case will be submitted to the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office for review. The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office cannot release additional information due to the active status of this investigation and to protect the integrity of this case.”
On Aug. 31, Valencia reported that the SCSO had completed its investigation into Waidelich and forwarded its findings to Mendocino County DA David Eyster, and that “no additional information will be released.”
At the time, DA Eyster said that his office did “receive something, but whether it is truly a completed investigation, I can’t say. Others will be evaluating first what we have received, whether more information is needed and should be sought.”
Also on Aug. 31, Eyster said it has yet to be determined if, once the investigation is complete, whether his office should handle the case, or if it should be handled by the state Attorney General’s Office.
When asked for further details regarding the nature of the case, Eyster said his “office policy doesn’t allow comment on reports pre-filing, and then even pre-conviction.”
When asked Tuesday whether his office had determined whether or not the investigation into Waidelich was complete, or whether his office would be handling it further, Eyster said he had “nothing new currently to report.”
UPD Capt. Cedric Crook has been serving as interim police chief since the departure of Waidelich. When asked last month for more details regarding the firing of Waidelich, Deputy City Manager Shannon Riley said, “there is nothing more that we’re able to share at this time, as there is still a pending criminal investigation with the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office.”
When told that the investigation by the SCSO had reportedly been completed and that “hopefully the public can be informed soon as to the nature of the case,” Riley did not respond.
(Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal)