Police and crime commissioner Tony Hogg has promised a "transparent" recruitment process after being quizzed over the appointment of his senior adviser.
Mr Hogg, a former Royal Navy commander, has so far yet to decide whether he needs a deputy and has only recruited a communications manager and one adviser, Jan Stanhope.
A former independent member of the disbanded police authority, Lady Stanhope is being paid about £20,000 for working two days a week, an arrangement Mr Hogg has described as "value for money".
But questions have been raised over the process of recruitment, with both councillors and MPs asking for greater "openness" and "equality of opportunity".
It was among the first points put to Mr Hogg at the police and crime panel, which is made up of councillors and independent members, which is charged with holding him to account.
Exeter City councillor Rachel Sutton said: "You spoke about transparency, openness and public awareness. I wanted to ask you some questions about equality of opportunity. You said that you had only appointed one adviser, as yet, and you may need more. You talked about not having chosen to appoint a deputy yet.
"I am not aware of having seen any job adverts for the post of chief adviser, is it your intention to have an open, accessible, transparent appointments facility for advisers and your deputy?"
Mr Hogg said it was "technically in the gift of the police and crime commissioner" to make their own choices and that advisers could be "remote, part-time or full-time".
He promised a "transparent system" and said a recruitment and remuneration committee was being instituted "to look at the recruitment of future individuals to the team".
But Mr Hogg added: "I think if you see someone who is a member of society who is well-known as an expert in their area, I might choose to be subjective about it and exercise that right. But it would be done in full view."
Councillor Sutton replied: "I would be very unhappy if there was a continuing policy of appointing people you happened to be acquainted with."
Lady Stanhope is a former director of resources at Devon County Council and is married to Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope, who has just stepped down as First Sea Lord. She was among those who signed the nomination paper for Councillor Brian Greenslade, who came second to Mr Hogg in November's election
Exeter's Labour MP Ben Bradshaw said Mr Hogg needed to "reassure the people of Devon and Cornwall" about his recruitment policy.