Police chief candidates enter evaluation stage of search

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Thursday evening the public had the chance to meet with the five certified candidates in the running for Spencer's next police chief during a meet-and-greet at Spencer City Hall.

Tom Erskine is currently Storm Lakes' assistant police chief and has had the position for seven years. Erskine also held the position of captain for nine years and lieutenant for six years. He has a bachelor's degree in criminal justice and a master's degree in human resources.

Jeff Jirak is a lieutenant with the Muscatine Police Department and serves as a part-time police chief in Nichols. He has a bachelor's degree in criminal justice and a master's degree in clinical psychology. He also trained with the FBI National Academy and is certified in all incident command courses.

Jeremy Logan is the current Oelwein police chief. He holds an associate degree from Hawkeye Community College and rural executive management degree from the University of Arkansas. Logan has worked in law enforcement for a total of 21 years.

Paul Ver Meer is the current chief of police in Creston. He has a bachelor's degree in psychology. Ver Meer is a former resident of Spencer and has worked in law enforcement for the past 23 years.

Mark Warburton is a lieutenant with the Spencer Police Department and is currently serving as the interim police chief in Spencer. He has an associate degree in criminal justice.

Beginning today at 7:15 a.m., the candidates will participate and be evaluated in a closed-session assessment center. During the assessment center, the candidates will be given different scenarios they could encounter as a police chief. This will give candidates the opportunity to demonstrate the skills they possess and how they would use them on the job. The assessment center is taken by the candidates collectively so consultants and the search committee can determine which candidates are leaders and quick thinkers.

On Saturday, the candidates will enter into the individual interview stage of the search process. Each candidate will spend time interviewing with three different groups of people -- city department heads, the city manager, and the mayor and council. It is important to evaluate how each candidate interacts with the three different groups as Spencer's police chief works closely with each entity.

Once the assessment center and individual interviews are concluded, Mayor Reynold Peterson will choose one of the candidates to appoint with the approval of the Spencer City Council. A definite and official deadline for the appointment has not been set, but the mayor has a goal date in mind.

"I am shooting to have a decision made and to the council by the second city council meeting in May (May 19)," Peterson said. "We have an excellent list of candidates, so it will be a more difficult decision to make."

"After an appointment has been made, the new police chief will take office sometime after July 1," Spencer City Manager Bob Fagen said. "Mark (Lawson) had a lot of unused vacation and sick days when he retired. We are waiting until all of his left over vacation and sick days are used up before we instate the new police chief."

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