PORTSMOUTH — A new permanent police chief will be sworn in "no later than July 1," Police Commissioner Joe Onosko said Tuesday night, while explaining the process that will lead to that event.

Onosko said two representatives from the International Association of Police Chiefs (IAPC) visited Portsmouth earlier this month and met with citizens, school officials, city staff, members of the police and fire departments, religious leaders, neighborhood and civic groups and members of the business community. Dr. Jessie Lee Jr., an IACP manager, and Andrey Pankov, IACP senior program manager, were the two IACP representatives and, Onosko said, they reported being "very impressed with the level of community interest and knowledge" of the Police Department.

Onosko said a profile will be created of the city and the ideal qualities sought in a police chief. He said those will be advertised nationally and responses from applicants will be collected through March. An advisory panel will be established and it will work with the Police Commission to study applicants and cull candidates to a list of four to six finalists, Onosko said.

By early April, the commissioner said, finalists will be interviewed and one candidate will be offered  a contract. At that point, he said, the IAPC will conduct "a deeper background check" and if it goes well, the finalist will be named chief of police. The new chief and Chief David Mara will work together for two weeks during a transition period, Onosko said. 

The Police Commission in March voted unanimously to retain the IACP to provide executive search services, after reviewing qualifications from six professional recruitment businesses. According to the IACP website, its executive search services include candidate profiling, job analysis, recruitment advertising and applicant screening, interviewing and hiring.