PFC names Wahl official acting chief as search for permanent replacement begins

Members of Madison’s Police and Fire Commission have selected Vic Wahl to serve as the acting police chief for the city.

Wahl has been performing the duties of acting chief since former chief Mike Koval retired two weeks ago. The Police and Fire Commission was required to officially name an interim chief from within the department, as members continue to search for a permanent replacement.

The Police and Fire Commission has unanimously voted to keep Vic Wahl as official acting @madisonpolice Chief as they begin their search for a permanent replacement to former Chief Koval. #news3now @WISCTV_News3

— Madalyn O’Neill (@news3madalyn) October 15, 2019

The PFC considered the three assistant police chiefs under Koval, including Wahl. The other two wrote to the board asking not to be considered for the acting chief position and vouched for Wahl.

Wahl has said more than once that he has no intention of applying for the job as chief, but at the PFC meeting Monday night, he said he’d like to help with the search.

“I have a really good understanding of the things that will help the next chief and what things you should look for in the next chief,” he told board members. “I’m happy to do that.”

During a time of change in the department, Wahl said he wants to keep as much continuity as possible.

“It’s important to reinforce to our folks internally and externally to the community that we’re going to keep moving forward, delivering a high level of service,” he said. “We have a very good, progressive police department and a lot of unique things about how we do things and what we do. I think it’s important to share with the PFC as much as I can what those things are and some of the traits and characteristics they might want to look for.”

The city’s human resources department is providing the PFC with resources from the last chief search, such as recruitment strategies, application packet examples and job descriptions that focus on a candidate having thorough experience in police administration.

Some of the board members said they see Wahl in the role, but he said he has no intention of applying because he doesn’t want to move to the city from his Verona home.

“Is that a hard ‘no’?” one member asked Wahl. “The next police chief of Madison will likely be from somewhere else.”

Wahl told News 3 he also doesn’t want to interrupt the department’s path forward.

“I’m coming up on the end of my career,” Wahl said. “I think it’s important to have continuity, so I think these are other things driving my decision in terms of what my retirement horizon is and how long I anticipate being here and how much time a chief should have to lead an organization.”

The PFC had a chance to ask human resources representatives questions, including whether hiring a consultant to help with the search would make sense.

The PFC’s legal counsel said it’s still very early in the process.

There’s no set timeline for the decision, but the recruitment process that ultimately led to Koval’s appointment to chief took about seven months.

Get your weather forecast from people who actually live in your community. We update with short, easy-to-use video forecasts you can watch on your phone every day. Download the iOS or Android app here.