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Malden

Panel to recommend new police chief

Malden Police Chief James J. Holland is expected to retire in February when he turns 65, the mandatory age of retirement for police officers in Massachusetts, Mayor Gary Christenson said Wednesday.

To review candidates, Christenson has formed a nine-member panel, which is expected to recommend a new chief next month, he said.

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When Holland was sworn in in March 2010, the job was considered a civil service position. Candidates within the department took a civil service test, with the highest score being awarded the top job in the department, Christenson said.

“This is slightly different from times past,” Christenson said. “Instead of relying solely on a testing center, we’re coming up with other ways to measure who the next chief will be.”

Only internal candidates will be considered for the job, at least initially, he said. Candidates outside the department will be considered only if the panel is unable to find someone suitable who is already working for the city, he said.

“I’ve seen enough to know that there are some very good candidates from within,” he said. “If that were to fail, only then would we go outside.”

The panel is expected to hold interviews, issue questionnaires, and possibly conduct forums in which residents could ask questions of candidates, Christenson said. It includes City Councilors Barbara Murphy and Neal Anderson, city human resources director Eleanor Cushing, Superintendent David DeRuosi, and five private citizens.

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The candidate they recommend will be sent to the mayor, who will choose a new chief. The appointment does not require approval from the City Council, Christenson said.

Christenson in August pledged renewed effort to curb gun violence in the city. The latest shooting came about 2 a.m. Tuesday, when a man was seriously injured on Harvard Street.

Holland turns 65 on Feb. 26, according to Kevin Morrison, director of the Malden Retirement Board. He will receive a pension that is 80 percent of his base salary, which was $123,824 last year, Morrison said. Holland had not filed his retirement papers as of last week, he said. The chief did not return requests for comment.

Holland has been in law enforcement for 40 years, joining the Malden department in 1975.

Choosing Holland’s successor is expected to be Christenson’s second appointment of a major department head in 2013. Fire Chief Michael J. Murphy is retiring at the end of January.

Reach Jarret Bencks at bencks.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on twitter @JarretBencks.

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