Madison Police Chief Noble Wray will be wrapping up his tenure as police chief in the next month or so and told WISC-TV Friday that he believes the search for his replacement should be internal.
Wray said he's worked with national policing organizations and seen the talent pool and believes the city could find a leader within current ranks.
"There is no question that there is talent within this department to run this department," said Wray. "Not only this department but other departments. There's talent here to run Class A cities. I would hope that they stay inside."
Wray says that recent internal disciplinary issues with Officer Stephen Heimsness and the shooting of Paul Heenan don't warrant a need to open up the search. He says that was a single incident and the department was already working on internal policies.
In his final weeks as chief, Wray is also reflecting on nine years at the helm, and the trials he's faced.
"Since I started, day one I was dealing with Audrey Seiler and we're in the national spotlight," said Wray of the UW student who faked her own disappearance in 2004. "The student does this hoax and every day I'm talking to national cameras."
"Then we had years where we had the unsolved homicides and with those there was a public trust challenge.T he challenge right there was that you can't release a whole lot of information so people are saying, 'What are you doing?' And that was a major crisis." Wray said.
"Then you get into the Britney Zimmermann homicide and all the issues that spiraled out of that. The 911 center and that debacle that came out of that unfortunate set of circumstances. So the business of policing is that there are going to be these crisis that come up and they reveal things that a law enforcement agency needs to pay attention to."
Wray views the internal response to Heimsness and Heenan in the same way.
"I know that the recent incident has been tough," said Wray. "I think the department will be better for it in the long run. I think the community will be better for it in the long run. It's how you handle it, not the fact that it happened."
Soon it will be someone else who needs to handle department issues and Wray said the city should choose a new chief that is competent, smart and compassionate.
"My emphasis was on building relationships and trust-based policing both internally and externally," said Wray. "The next chief will have to decide on how they are going to place that emphasis. I believe they are really going ot have to put data-driven decisions and analysis up front because that is is where things are going."
As for Wray's future, it will be likely with a job taking less of a toll.
"I have not had a good night's rest since I can remember," said Wray. "You also want to leave this profession because you get calls all the time, this is a 24/7 job and I don't think people realize that. The last thing I ever want to do is get that call at 2 a.m. that one of our officers has lost their life in the line of duty. So sometimes it's almost like escaping without the worst thing happening."
Wray's last days will be sometime next month. He says he does plan to stay in Madison after his retirement.
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