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Chief Candidates Appeal To Community For Job

After half a year without one, Pocatello is close to getting its next police chief, but not without local people getting the chance to meet — and comment on — the man in blue who will protect and serve them.

The five men up for the job got the chance to talk for 10 minutes, and they all made a point to talk about community involvement.

Reta Scott said she liked that four of the five are home grown guys.

“They are from Pocatello, they’re currently working here, they know the department inside and out and they’re all trying to do the very best to keep the city of Pocatello safe,” Scott said.

Gerald Mines is the only candidate who isn’t from inside the department, he’s a former captain from New York City. But, he said he was in charge of one of New York’s precincts that was about the size of the Gate City. He wants to come in, learn and listen, he said.

“I think you can learn a lot from just talking to people that’s out there on the street that you really don’t know,” Scott said.

Lt. Scott Marchand emphasized that point in his speech. He’s been employed by the city for 31 years, and wants to reinstate the citizen’s advisory board and citizen’s academy. He said one of the best ways to solve and prevent crime is by engaging the community.

The Rev. Jacqualine Theresa Thomas is on the search committee and said she’s looking for diversity.

“One of the problems, again, I think is being more accessible. I’d like to see more community policing,” Thomas said.

Capt. Jim Peterson emphasized that idea, citing his 27 years of experience in many different areas of the department, including the genesis of the Student Resource Officer program and training new officers.

Interim Chief Mike Stayner said he likes training best, and thinks empowering people is the most important thing. He emphasized targeting mental health issues and training officers to deal with them. Stayner has been honored multiple times by the state for his work on mental health.

Executive Director of Family Services Alliance Sarah Leeds said she’s hoping to see a chief who will concentrate on domestic violence, too.

“I really liked what one or two of the other candidates said, to not be happy with status quo and that we can always do better,” Leeds said.

Lt. John Walker was one of those candidates. He wants to root out inefficiencies and reallocate resources to make the department work better. He said he’s always wanted to be chief, and got his Ph.D. last year in leadership and community collaboration.

Mayor Brian Blad and search committee have to interview three candidates on Tuesday, and hope to have a decision by June 7.

If a decision is not made by June 7, the committee has to decide by July 5. The City Council has the power to ratify the decision at that point.

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