Oak Creek The Oak Creek Board of Trustees interviewed the town's next choice for the chief of police, Thomas Ling, Tuesday night and will decide Thursday whether to offer him the job.
Oak Creek Mayor Deb Van Gundy said on Tuesday afternoon that preliminary background checks were done on the next three candidates for the position last week after the hire of the town's No. 1 choice, David LaRose, fell through.
Town trustees decided to offer LaRose, of Akron, Colo., the job on May 10, pending that a background check came up clean. Trustees won't comment on the background check but held a special meeting in executive session on May 14 concerning the hire. At that meeting the trustees decided to look at the next three candidates.
On May 15, Town Trustee and Police Commissioner Sonja Norris told Steamboat Today that the cost of living was too high for LaRose.
Oak Creek Town Manager Ray Leibensperger said trustees also decided that LaRose wasn't a fit for the community.
The town interviewed Ling Tuesday night, who is living in Steamboat Springs.
"Thursday night we'll vote to see if we'll hire him or not," Van Gundy said.
Ling most recently worked as the chief of police for the Oak Hill Police Department in Florida, a position he has held since June 1999. Before a brief stint doing advertising sales for a publishing company in 1998 and 1999, Ling worked as the chief of police for the city of Lake Helen Police Department, in Florida, from 1980 to 1998.
His experience working in law enforcement in Florida dates back to 1971 for the Orange City Police Department, city of Lake Mary Police Department, city of Winter Springs Police Department and the city of Longwood Police Department.
Ling came to Steamboat Springs because his wife was hired as the communications director for Routt County.
Along with his qualifications, the town will have to make a decision about how it will handle a police chief that lives in Steamboat Springs, Leibensperger said.
"The board decided that whoever gets hired needs to live in a 'reasonable' distance from town," Leibensperger said.
However, he said it was not decided what a "reasonable" distance was.
"It's something that has to be discussed," Leibensperger said.
Ling, who could not be reached for comment Tuesday, is in a short-term lease in Steamboat Springs and will consider moving to south Routt if hired, Leibensperger said.