Rifle community meets police chief candidates | PostIndependent.com

Rifle community meets police chief candidates

Kara Warby
Special to the Post Independent

RIFLE — Residents got up close and personal Friday evening with the six candidates in the running for the Rifle police chief at a meet-and-greet session hosted at the Ute Events Center. For many, this was the first opportunity to get information on the candidates and really be involved in the process for selection.

“I’ve only seen them on paper. There are a couple that look good,” said Steve Fuller, Spanish teacher at Rifle High School.

“I just want to get a feel of the candidates and see what they have to say,” said Jill Hamrick, area business owner, cosmetologist and ambassador for the Rifle Area Chamber of Commerce.

Chief John Dyer resigned at the end of August to be closer to family in Washington state.

The finalists are:

• Daric Harvey, most recently administrative commander for the Vail Police Department.

• Thomas Klein, north district captain for the Raleigh Police Department in North Carolina.

• Thomas Rummel, a patrol captain serving as a watch commander with the Pueblo Police Department.

• Drew Sanders, a lieutenant with the West Jordan Police Department in Utah.

• Andrew Smith, investigations division captain for the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office in Minneapolis.

• Samuel Stewart, a Rifle police sergeant serving as the interim chief.

The ability to fit in and relate to the community and residents of Rifle seemed to be a prominent desire among those at the event. Several expressed this characteristic as something they were looking for in each of the candidates.

“I’m just looking through the lens of, do they fit in with the community and what can they do for the community as a whole.” said Jessica Paugh, assistant dean at the Rifle Campus of Colorado Mountain Community College. “You’ve got to be one of us.”

“I wanted to see how they would fit into the community and be a part of public safety,“ said Rob Jones, chief at Colorado River Fire Rescue. “Somebody that is community oriented, that can provide that interpersonal connection with the people that live here.”

Guests did not seem overly concerned with the candidates tackling any issues in the city of Rifle at this point. When questioned, most seemed pleased with where things stood as a community and hoped matters would continue in a positive direction.

“I really feel like our city of Rifle is very safe already,” said Lou White, event coordinator for the Ute Events Center. “I have no complaints.”

“I think things are running really well right now,” said Kathy Pototsky, court administrator for the city of Rifle. “I think Chief Dyer laid a really good foundation.”

After hearing what each candidate had to say, many attendees were pleasantly surprised and had lots of positive opinions on what each candidate had to offer. The overall stance on the candidates was favorable and enthusiastic.

“Amazing,” Pototsky said. “I was so impressed. … They are very qualified. They’re very personable, and they also all seem very confident.”

“I was hoping to get a lot of background out of each individual, and I think I definitely accomplished that,” said Kami Trent, Ute Event Center employee.

Friday night’s event was only the beginning of the selection process for the candidates. Following the meet-and-greet was a six-hour closed interview session Saturday with the candidates, City Manager Matthew Sturgeon and the council panel. When questioned, Sturgeon was confident but had not yet reached a decision.

“We had six very good interviews,” Sturgeon said. “This is an interesting situation because all of the candidates not only were qualified on paper, but they came across very well in the interview process. They are all qualified to do the job.”

While the determination could be made earlier, the deadline for a formal decision on the selected candidate is Dec. 7.

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