Mike McKibbin

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July 25, 2012
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Rifle looks outside state for next police chief

John Dyer felt like a dog who chases a car and catches it, but then wasn't sure what to do next.

That's his description of his reaction when the city of Rifle offered him the job of police chief.

Dyer's appointment to replace longtime Police Chief Daryl Meisner, who is retiring, was unanimously approved by City Council at their July 18 meeting.

Dyer, 53, said he was very excited when the job was offered.

"It was a whirlwind three weeks," he said. "We've lived in Washington for 36 years, so their was some real tough decision making."

Dyer, of Oak Harbor, Wash., has 28 years of police experience. He is currently a patrol commander for the Oak Harbor Police Department.

Dyer's starting salary will be $89,000 a year, less than Meisner's current salary.

After Meisner announced earlier this year he would be retiring, the city conducted an extensive recruitment effort to find his replacement. Dyer was selected from among seven finalists out of 78 applicants for the position. Dyer was one of two finalists from outside Colorado.

City Manager John Hier called Dyer "well versed, with a record of community involvement."

Hier pointed to Dyer's role in starting a Big Brothers/Big Sisters program, his service on youth commissions and time on a school board as examples.

Dyer holds a bachelor of science degree in organizational management from Ashford University. He is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, a graduate of the FBI National Academy for police executives, and has earned a management certificate from the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Center.

Hier said he was still negotiating a start date for Dyer, and added he would be officially sworn in at a council meeting.

Dyer expects to start his new job sometime between the middle and end of August, but his wife, Peggy, won't join him in Rifle until January.

"So I'll be renting a place until then," Dyer said.

Since he reached agreement to become Rifle's new chief, Dyer said he emailed two pages of comments to police department officers and staff.

"I wanted to introduce myself to everyone, even though I'd met most of them when I was there," Dyer said. "I've had several of them email back and say they're looking forward to having some new blood. There's a lot of longevity in the department, a lot of training, a lot of positives."

Dyer and the other finalists met with department staff, attended a community reception in June, and were interviewed by the city council, Hier and the city's executive staff.

Hier said a scoring system was not used to decide who to hire.

"Staff and council compared notes, and we looked at what the public comments received at the open house said about the candidates. Police department employees comments were included as well," Hier added.

Councilwoman Jennifer Sanborn said Dyer was a "pretty impressive candidate."

"He ranked at the top of all of my scores," she said, adding all the finalists were well qualified.

Councilman Keith Lambert said he was out of town when the City Council met with Dyer and the other finalists, but the two had spoken.

"I think he's highly qualified," Lambert said.

Dyer and his wife have five adult daughters and three grand children, all living within two hours in Washington.

"That's what made it so hard to decide," he added.

Dyer said his wife grew up in Colorado and has family in the Fort Collins and Colorado Springs areas.

Dyer said he plans to spend several months getting to know the community and the department, so no immediate changes are planned.

"As I said when I was there, I want to make sure the department is reflective of the community, and the only way to do that is to get to know the community," Dyer added.

Replacing Meisner, who's entire 39-year career has been with the Rifle department and the last 22 as chief, is daunting, Dyer said.

"That's what's been so awesome about it," Dyer said. "Chief Meisner has been nothing but helpful in reaching out to me and making this transition as smooth as possible. I've seen other departments where it didn't happen that way and all the papers are shredded and the new person is starting from scratch."

Dyer said the Oak Harbor department has 27 officers and 40 employees, including eight jailers. The smaller Rifle department was attractive, he added.

"I think you can make connections a lot faster, both with the officers and staff and, I hope, the community," Dyer said.

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The Post Independent Updated Jul 25, 2012 05:46PM Published Jul 25, 2012 05:45PM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.