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Public to meet chief hopefuls

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By Tris DeRoma

The County of Los Alamos released the names of five potential candidates for police chief recently,and has set aside time for the public to meet them Sept. 12 at a reception inside the County Municipal Center.

“Candidates will be available to visit informally with attendees from 6:00 to 6:30 pm. At approximately 6:30 p.m., each of the candidates will be asked to make brief remarks about their background, experience and why they believe they are the best candidate for the job,” said a statement in the press release from the county. It also said residents can leave written comments at the end of reception as well as email comments overnight to County Administrator Harry Burgess.

The candidates are: Roy Melnick, current chief of the Los Lunas, New Mexico police department; Don Perry, current compliance enforcement administrator for the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles, Bill Press, current chief of the Fairhope, Ala. police department; Dino Sgambellone, current police chief of the Mansfield, Ohio police department and Philip Smith, currently deputy police chief of the Roswell, NM police department.

In their applications to the county, each candidate had to list their qualifications for the police chief position, the last four positions they held, including their current one, and why they would make an excellent chief of police for the County of Los Alamos. Some opted just to list their credentials and experience, while others stated in a cover letter their goals for the department as well as clues as to how they would manage it in the wake of a recent scandal and lawsuit.

“My strongest attribute is the ability to bring about positive change, reform and the infusion of new ideas and leadership,” said Melnick in his cover letter.

In his letter, Press said “I believe in working side- by-side with our employees, making personal contact with businesses and citizens, attending meetings, seeking collective ways to improve community concerns, and discussing issues with those who may be affected by such before an implementation process begins.”

Not all the candidates were currently serving as police chiefs; Donnie Perry is serving in the law enforcement division of the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles. In his letter to Burgess, he said, “As a public sector executive, I have the energy, vision, skills and personality to build upon what the police department has accomplished and lead the organization to its next level of success.”

Smith also had strong administrative background, telling Burgess in his letter his 26 years of law enforcement experience as well as his administrative experience, saying he’s “worked within labor and non-labor contracts, have developed, managed and provided oversight for budgets from $1 milion to $12 million dollars.

Sgambollone also emphasised his managerial skills. saying he has “experience in budgeting, planning, organization, directing and administration.”

The interview process is expected to take two days, with one day set aside for touring the town and meeting key people and the other just for interviewing. Burgess has set up a three panels to interview the candidates.senior management, executive administration and community members ­— who will conduct all-day interviews with the finalists.

Most of the candidates come from a mixed background of law enforcement and administration.