Assistant Police Chief Douglas MacDonald overcame another hurdle Tuesday in his six-month quest to become chief of the Providence, R.I., Police Department, but his fate may be in doubt for yet another month.

MacDonald was announced as one of three finalists for the highly sought position. Of the 72 original applicants, only six were retained when the selection committee made its first round of cuts in mid-April.

The Providence job would represent over a $10,000 pay increase for the 30-year New Haven Police Department mainstay — $94,309 compared with his current annual salary of $83,150.

Now Providence Public Safety Commissioner John Partington must recommend one of the three remaining candidates to the mayor, and he is in no hurry to speed this final step along.

“We’ve got a guy in there right now [acting Chief Richard T. Sullivan, one of the three finalists] who’s doing a fine job, so we don’t need to rush into naming a new chief just yet,” Partington said. “We’re going to take our time with this.”

The other person in Partington’s “we” is Providence Mayor Vincent “Buddy” Cianci Jr., who is ultimately responsible for choosing the new chief. Partington said he will work closely with Cianci in the process — scrutinizing interview transcripts and meeting again with certain candidates if necessary. But to participate fully in the chief search, Cianci will have to find time away from his court proceedings which began in earnest today.

Of the three candidates, MacDonald received the second-highest number of votes from the committee, and he finished just two votes behind Leonard Supenski, an engagement specialist with the International Association of Police Chiefs. Sullivan finished third and only became a finalist after he won a tie-breaking vote.

–Brian Ginsberg