Group set to review applicants

Oak Creek police chief hiring committee established

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— Oak Creek has set a nine-person hiring committee, including every law-enforcement officer who said they would volunteer, to interview applicants for the town's chief of police position.

At the Oak Creek Board of Trustees meeting, Thursday night, town officials debated whether they should have all the officers on the committee and whether business owners and residents should be allowed on the committee.

Trustee Mike Kien wanted more residents than police officers.

"I don't think there should be any more than two police officers," Kien said, who also supported letting any responsible resident of the town observe the interview process.

The other four trustees disagreed, saying town residents and trustees won't be able to ask technical questions having to do with law enforcement.

"I feel that we are not law-enforcement officers and we sure don't try to be law-enforcement officers," Trustee Bill Paxton said. "If these six said they would take the time to do it, then they should be on the committee."

Ilene Rossi, who is Oak Creek's interim chief since former chief Dan Kelliher resigned last month, said it is important to have someone with law-enforcement knowledge to go over the resumes and interview because some of applicants listed qualifications that sound more lofty than they really are.

"Some of these qualifications are really fluff," she said. "It might look good in words, but it's really like an eight-hour class."

The trustees voted, with Kien voting nay, to have all six officers who are from Routt and Moffat counties a business owner, a town resident and South Routt School Superintendent Steve Jones to be on the committee.

Town Manager Ray Leibensperger and Police Commissioners Charlie Bevan and Sonja Norris will be present during the interview process but won't be officially part of the committee, Norris said.

At the meeting, Leibensperger urged the board to make some decisions about other hiring issues to make sure everyone is on the same page and to get it done before there is confusion.

"The rubber is meeting the road here and we have to make some decisions," he said.

The board decided a police chief wouldn't have to live in town, but the response time from their house would have to be adequate.

"I've got no problem with a five-minute response time, but when it gets up to 15 (minutes), then I have a problem," Kien said.

The board also decided that Norris, Bevan, Rossi and Leibensperger would cut the applicants down to 10 for the hiring committee to interview.

From there, the committee will give its recommendations to the board to make a final decision, Leibensperger said.

So far, there are 23 applicants, but the town expects to get more before the cut-off date of May 7. Norris said she expects the interviewing to take place in mid-May.

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