BARRE — When it comes to the search for Barre’s next police chief the semi-final four have been selected and will be interviewed in an effort to narrow the field further next month.

A search that was launched in the run-up to Tim Bombardier’s October-ending retirement attracted 12 candidates, including three from Vermont, and City Manager Steve Mackenzie said a screening committee recently pared that list to four.

According to Mackenzie, all three Vermonters are still in the running as is an out-of-state candidate from Connecticut.

Mackenzie said the committee will meet next week to prepare for what he anticipates will be the first of two rounds of interviews before the committee makes a recommendation to the City Council.

Mackenzie said the first semifinalists will be interviewed by the committee on back-to-back days — Dec. 7 and 8 — and the remaining to will be interviewed Dec. 10.

Based on those interviews, Mackenzie said, the committee would likely identify two or more finalists and conduct a second round of interviews.

“For a position like this I can’t imagine (making a recommendation) based on just one interview,” he said.

Although Mackenzie said he would like to schedule follow-up interviews with the finalists within a week he noted that was more goal than guarantee given the size of the committee and challenges associated with the holiday season.

“It’s a challenge to schedule around 11 people,” he said, predicting that won’t get easier as Christmas approaches.

Scheduling issues have prompted the process to slip some from the timeline Mackenzie laid out in September and his preference would be to conduct the second round of interviews before Christmas if possible.

It isn’t yet clear whether the committee will recommend one or more finalist to the council for its consideration and there isn’t much in the way of precedent.

There was no screening committee when Bombardier was hired in 2006 — a month after his predecessor Bill Waller resigned seven hours into his first day on the job.

There was no process when Waller was hired. The vacancy created by the resignation of veteran chief Trevor Whipple was never advertised. Waller’s hiring was simply announced as was his abrupt resignation.

Bombardier was among those hastily interviewed to replace Waller and was chosen over Sgt. Robert Miller — a veteran member of the local department who would have applied had the position been posted before Waller was hired, and Bob Edwards, who was police chief in Barre Town at the time.

It is unclear whether there are any in-house candidates for the job in the current crop of semi-finalists.

Mackenzie said it is too soon to tell when a recommendation will be made to the council, but he predicted once that it happens it will want to conduct its own interviews.

While Mackenzie had hoped the process would move more quickly, Deputy Chief Larry Eastman will continue serving as interim chief until a decision is made.

The search for Barre’s next police chief is nearing an end even as the one that will end in the selection of its next city manager is ramping up. With Mackenzie set to retire in July a separate committee recently launched the process of finding his successor.

david.delcore @timesargus.com

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