Oak Creek The Oak Creek Board of Trustees has voted to offer a Florida man the town's police chief position
Board members interviewed Thomas Ling who recently moved to Steamboat Springs following a stint as the chief of police in Oak Hill, Fla. on Tuesday and voted to offer him the position in a meeting Thursday.
"I think he is going to work out for our town," said Sonja Norris, police commissioner and town trustee.
Ling, who has accepted the job, starts work Tuesday, Norris said. Ling said he will spend the weekend getting to know the town.
"I'm just trying to get my feet on the ground," he said.
Ling said he wants to spend time next week introducing himself to local business owners and collecting public opinion about Oak Creek's police department.
"I think some (smaller town) police departments get stuck with the Barney Fife syndrome," Ling said.
He said people often assume small-town officers are inexperienced.
"It behooves the officer in a small town to be even more professional," Ling said.
He said police officers are closer to their communities in small towns. "I'll see these people every day," he said of Oak Creek residents.
Ling's uncle, a retired police officer in Pennsylvania, steered him into police work after Ling returned from the military in 1970.
Since then he has been practicing community policing and said he plans on doing the same in Oak Creek.
Ling recently moved to Steamboat Springs from Florida after his wife, Janice, was hired by Routt County to be the communications director for the dispatch center at the Routt County Sheriff's Office.
Ling will be on a six-month probationary period after he is hired, Norris said.
He is expected to move to South Routt at the end of that time.
"I'll move there as soon as possible," Ling said.
The board decided it would allow Ling to live as far away as Stagecoach, Norris said.
"We would prefer Oak Creek," Norris said. But she added the board recognizes it is difficult to find a place to live in Oak Creek.
Ling was considered for the job after the first choice of the hiring committee, David LaRose, fell through.
Town trustees decided to offer LaRose, of Akron, the job on May 10, pending a background check.
But on May 14, trustees held a special meeting and following an executive session, the board said it would re-open the search and interview the next three candidates.
Ling was the hiring committee's second choice out of 33 people who applied and eight who were interviewed.
He most recently worked as the chief of police for the Oak Hill Police Department in Florida, a position he has held since June of 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. That town has a population of 3,500.
His experience working in law enforcement in Florida dates back to 1970 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.