The Mesa police chief position has attracted at least 50 applicants, including the city's three assistant chiefs.
A consultant is culling all those names now to help the city select finalists so a new chief can be in place by early next year. While the application deadline ended last week, Mayor Scott Smith said Tuesday that late entries may be considered for a short period if candidates have strong attributes.
Like with other high-ranking positions in Mesa, a consultant is heading up the initial phase. Texas-based Waters Consulting will be paid up to $14,000 for its work, an expense Smith said is worth it to help identify the best person.
"Who we hire has long-term and wide-ranging ramifications to our community," Smith said.
Waters will work with City Manager Chris Brady to narrow the list to about 15 applicants who will be asked to fill out detailed questionnaires. That group will be narrowed to 6-10 candidates who will sit before an interview panel of six citizens and city officials. About three of those applicants will return for more extensive interviews, including forums where the public can ask questions of the finalists.
Mesa will probably even send some officials to the places the finalists are from to learn more about them from citizens in the community, said Trisha Sorensen, assistant to the city manager.
Brady will select the chief, with the approval of the City Council. The police chief is among the highest-paid city employees in Mesa, but Sorensen said the city isn't advertising an amount because it's negotiable and is based on experience, qualifications and education.
The panel that will help select the chief was formally announced Tuesday, with members who are meant to represent a wide array of interests and viewpoints. The members are:
- Debbi Dollar, a retired assistant city manager whose duties included overseeing the police department.
- Sherry Kiyler, Chandler police chief.
- James May, vice chair of the Mesa Human Relations Advisory Board and a deputy personnel director for Phoenix.
- Delfino Aleman, associate superintendent for the Mesa Unified School District.
- Deanna Villanueva-Saucedo, community liaison for Mesa Community College and the Mesa Unified School District.
- Michael Jorgenson, Fiesta Mall senior property manager.
The new chief will replace George Gascón, who left in July to take the same position in San Francisco.
After arriving in 2006, Gascón won praise for lowering crime and for initiatives like tracking crime statistics with a method called COMPSTAT. He ran into controversy when he advocated sanctuary policies for illegal immigrants, saying Mesa police shouldn't enforce immigration laws. He clashed with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, refusing to cooperate with the sheriff's immigration sweeps in Mesa.
Since Gascón's departure, Vicki Myers has served as interim chief.