“Say your peace, and get out”, I said jokingly to Chief Donchez as he stood before the department heads collected for our typical Thursday meeting. The Chief and I had just finished our exit interview, and we were a few minutes late to the meeting. Frank was looking to say his last farewell and move along, so he took my directive in good humor. He thanked the team for their good graces, shook hands, and headed west.
He headed west to come here too, from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where he rose from the ranks to become Police Chief of his hometown. Pension secured, he hung his shingle as a private practice attorney before figuring out he missed the challenge of leading a police department. He came to Davenport and stepped into a job most thought should go to someone already here, but that person didn’t apply. It’s not the easiest thing to pull up roots and land in a place where nobody knows you, and everyone is testing you, every day. But when I toured the Bethlehem PD with Frank for our customary on-site reference checks, everyone greated him like a long lost brother, so I had a sense he could pull it off.
He did admirable work in Davenport, and we had an easy rapport, in part from being cut from some of the same blue collar cloth. Competency and results are Frank Donchez’s calling cards, and when the reference checkers rang me up I told them so, noting I may never have had supervisory responsibility for anyone who was so focused on results and, at the same time, so low maintenance. He’s a serial competency slayer, racking up degrees, licenses and certifications, only to find his newly added skills require greater challenge to hold his interest.
It will be interesting to watch whether the Overland Park Chief’s gig has that greater challenge. It’s a larger department, but a much easier city in which to work.
Best wishes, Frank