The six finalists to be the next Lacey police chief were introduced to the community on Tuesday, capping a long day in which they toured the city and the police department and sat through a series of panel interviews.
Before the day was over, they appeared in City Council chambers to introduce themselves and mingle for about 90 minutes.
All of the finalists are white men from the West Coast: Ken Semko, interim police chief for the city of Santa Monica, California; Ron Schaub, Pierce Transit public safety chief; Tim Braniff, Thurston County Undersheriff; Dan Yourkoski, Normandy Park police chief; Craig Schwartz, a captain in the city of Santa Rosa, California police department; Carl Nielsen, Centralia police chief.
Lacey Mayor Andy Ryder was asked about the lack of diversity among the finalists.
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“You always want more diversity,” he told The Olympian on Wednesday, “but you also want the best person for the job, whether it’s a man, a woman, or a minority.”
He said he was confident in the work City Manager Scott Spence had done to narrow the field.
“I have a lot of faith in his team that they are doing their due diligence and are coming up with the best six candidates,” Ryder said.
Four panel interviews were held Tuesday: with city department officials, with community members, with police and with City Manager Spence, City Attorney David Schneider and Olympia Police Chief Ronnie Roberts.
The city of Lacey needs a new police chief after Dusty Pierpoint retired in October. Pierpoint had spent his entire law enforcement career with the city.
The city has worked with the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs on a national search to find the next chief. They started with 20 candidates before settling on the six finalists. Former Lacey Commander Chris Ward is serving as interim chief.
Mike Painter, who works with the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, said Tuesday the city might have a new chief by Feb. 1.
Here’s what the candidates said about why they want to be the next Lacey police chief:
Semko: “It gives me the opportunity to do all the things I love about being a police officer, and to be part of a community that is moving into the future with growth, but that wants to keep that sense of community while that happens.”
Schaub: He said he used to live in Hawks Prairie and still has ties to the area. “It’s an opportunity to look at something bigger and put down roots and get to work.”
Braniff: “This is an opportunity, for all the passion that I have for law enforcement, to lead the leaders of another organization and be part of a great organization and great community.”
Yourkoski: He said he currently lives in Hawks Prairie. “This is an opportunity to work in the community I live in. It’s being able to work with the people and the Lacey Police Department, of which I’ve heard nothing but good things.”
Schwartz: “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to learn from all of you, and to grow and help the growth of this department and city.”
Nielsen: “This is an opportunity to not only work in a great community but you have the foundation of a great police department. I truly look forward to being your next chief of police.”