Chief hopefuls trimmed to three |

Chief hopefuls trimmed to three

John Colson

The field of candidates for the Aspen police chief job has been narrowed down to three, and the community will soon get to meet the men who want the job.The three finalists, culled from a list of more than 100 applicants, are acting Aspen Police Chief Keith Ikeda; Joseph Cortez, police chief in Brush, Colo.; and Dwight Henninger, commander of the Laguna Beach Police Department in California.”All of these finalists have extensive law enforcement experience. Each has strengths that we feel could be important to serving Aspen’s needs,” said City Manager Steve Barwick.Ikeda has 15 years of local law enforcement experience, including six years as assistant chief in charge of operations in Aspen. According to a statement from the city of Aspen, “He has been instrumental in development and implementation of Aspen’s `community policing’ principles and practices,” which have guided Aspen’s police department for more than a decade.He also has been a training instructor for the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, and has spoken at the National Training Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence Conference and the Department of Justice Anti-Racial Profiling Seminar. Ikeda is a board member of the Colorado Regional Community Policing Institute, and serves on a number of community boards in the Aspen area.Cortez has been the chief of the Brush department for five years, and serves on the Colorado Peace Officers Standards and Training Board.He also serves as a Professional Standards Assessor for the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police, the Police Liability Committee for the Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency, Chairman for the Morgan County Emergency Medical Services Board, and the Morgan Community College Board.”I’m very much into collaboration and innovation,” Cortez said in a statement issued by the city. “I enjoy an environment where creativity is used to solve problems. The Aspen style of `community policing’ is a nationwide model between the police and the community.”Before becoming the chief in Brush, Cortez was a police sergeant with theNapa (Calif.) Police Department; an officer with the Lakeport (Calif.) Police Department; and a deputy sheriff in Lakeport and Fresno, Calif.Henninger has been the Police Division Commander for Laguna Beach for the past three years. Before that, he was a police sergeant and officer in Irvine, Calif., for 14 years, and an officer for the Garden Grove Department.In Laguna Beach, Henninger started the Cops & Clergy program to address social issues and is active in the Exchange Club, which works with youth and child abuse prevention programs.”I’ve been active in tourist-town law enforcement and I see similar concerns between Laguna Beach and Aspen,” Henninger said. “My work with the International Association of Chiefs of Police Environmental Crimes Committee has been a rewarding experience, which I think will be helpful to keep our natural resources protected.”Barwick said Monday that he plans follow up with further meetings between the candidates and the Aspen Police Department, some city departments, the City Council and local media representatives.He also plans to present all three candidates during a public reception sometime in May, so the community can meet them and ask some questions.The job, which pays between $56,000 and $80,000 per year, became open when former Chief Tom Stephenson retired suddenly in February.A two-day marathon of interviews was conducted last Thursday and Friday between the chief selection panel and six applicants.In the interviews, according to Barwick, the applicants were asked questions about their law-enforcement philosophies, their experience with and understanding of resort populations and issues, and their general abilities as managers of the various personalities and problems that are inevitably encountered in a police department.Recommendations were then given by the panel members to Barwick, who cut the list of applicants in half.The cost of bringing the six candidates to Aspen was shared by the applicants and the city, according to Barwick. City records indicate that approximately $1,000 has been spent so far on the search process. It would have been more, but the Aspen Alps condominium complex donated the use of rooms for the out-of-town applicants.The selection panel was made up of Barwick, Assistant City Manager Randy Ready, City Personnel Director Patsy Malone, Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis, police Officers Marie Munday and Richard Pryor, Aspen School Superintendent Tom Farrell (Farrell replaced citizen Augie Reno, who could not participate), Aspen Youth Council member Chris Luu, and local citizens Molly Campbell and John Sarpa.Barwick said he hopes to have a new chief on the job by July.

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