Gilbert interim Police Chief Tim Dorn has been selected to lead the department on a permanent basis, following a lengthy search that wasn’t much of a search at all.
Dorn, a 30-year law enforcement veteran, was announced Wednesday as the pick of Town Manager George Pettit. It’s up to the Town Council to ratify Pettit’s selection at its meeting Tuesday.
Dorn has held the job on an interim basis since December, when Chief John C. Brewer stepped down. But Pettit never ordered a hunt for a replacement.
Instead, Pettit gave Dorn five months to show he was up to the task of leading an agency with a $38.8 million annual budget and 282 employees, including 190 sworn officers.
Town Council members have criticized Pettit for failing to search for a new chief. Even Dorn was somewhat surprised he was the only candidate for Gilbert’s highest public safety position.
“To be honest with you, this job is probably one a lot of people would’ve liked to have,” said Dorn, 49.
By comparison, Mesa launched an intensive nationwide search after its police chief announced his retirement last September. Five highly qualified candidates emerged. A new chief likely will be named later this month.
Pettit said he withstood the council’s carping because he didn’t want to reveal that Dorn was being tested and reviewed for the position, which could have affected results.
“I’m willing to take that (criticism) because of my sense of what the community is getting,” Pettit said.
Mayor Steve Berman noted that his criticism of Pettit’s stalled hiring process wasn’t a reflection of Dorn’s qualifications. “We’ve seen what kind of job he could do,” Berman said. “It would’ve been very difficult to beat him.”
Councilman Don Skousen recalled the 1970s when he was a magistrate and Dorn got his first police job in Gilbert.
“I think we would be wasting our time and money to do a search,” Skousen said. “There’s always a lot of experienced people who want to move out from the East, and I know we would have gotten a lot of applications. But I don’t know that any of them would have been better than Tim.”
Once Dorn is officially ensconced in his $118,000-a-year position, he said he plans no major upheavals. Dorn wants to continue what he feels is Gilbert’s tradition of effective law enforcement with small-town intimacy.
“There really isn’t anything to change,” Dorn said. “We need to keep going ahead, on schedule, with the things we’ve put into place.”