Payson Police Commander Don Engler has been recommended by the selection committee as the next police chief.
The choice has been accepted by Payson Town Manager Fred Carpenter.
"He is well qualified for the job," Carpenter said.
Members of the Payson Town Council have been notified and the committee has requested that the council ratify the decision at its June 7 meeting.
Editor's note: Printed below is the story published in the June 1 Roundup about the public question-and-answer session held with the police chief finalists Thursday night.
Police chief to be chosen today
Finalists met with public Thursday; town manager to consider input in decision
Five remaining police chief hopefuls met with community members Thursday night at Frontier Elementary School.
The five finalists are Dick Baranzini, Michael Cline, Sherwood Eldredge, Don Engler and Gregg Jacquin.
The candid, half-hour discussions featured brief experience-based biographies from each candidate and questions from community members about everything from drug abuse in the community to the candidates' opinions about how to retain police officers.
Baranzini is currently contracted with the Scottsdale Police Department for traffic enforcement. He has 33 years of law enforcement experience, including more than six years as chief for the police department in Sammamish, Wash., and as an officer in the King County Sheriff's Office in Washington.
Baranzini said he considers himself a leader in law enforcement and championed his work with youth programs.
"This is the size of a city and police department I like," he said. "This seems like a place that fits my ideals."
Baranzini said he'd like to increase community involvement to improve the cooperation between the police department and the community.
Cline is currently a commander with the Sierra Vista Police Department. He has 27 years of experience in law enforcement, including completion of an FBI training program.
He said he is very concerned with tackling the drug problem in the area and is familiar with smaller communities, coming from Sierra Vista.
"In a smaller department, you become a jack-of-all-trades," he said. "That's very beneficial."
Cline spoke of the work he believes it will take by law enforcement and different facets of the community to pressure drug users to move on.
"You've got to have a proactive, aggressive attack," he said. "And I'll add multifaceted to it, too. It takes commitment."
Eldredge has more than 18 years in law enforcement and is currently the chief of police for the Pinetop/Lakeside Police Department.
He is interested in the Payson chief position because he owns a home in Payson and said he enjoys the quality of life in the Rim Country. He said working in this community would be ideal for him.
Eldredge said he believes retaining officers and improving the functionality of the police department can be accomplished by creating an open atmosphere within the department.
"All the police chief can do is make an environment where officers feel their opinions mean something," he said. "If you don't have the buy-in of officers and the organization, you're not going to do it. You have to get employees to believe you care about them."
Engler, the current police commander for the Payson Police Department, has 22 years in law enforcement, including completion of an FBI training program.
Engler said he'd like to see a more relaxed environment within the department, between supervisors and their employees and isn't afraid of change.
"If elected chief, I'll be very approachable," he said. "We need to loosen the rigid chain of control we have and be more interactive.
"I think we need to make some changes. Let's see if we can improve things."
The drug problem in Payson is also a focus for Engler.
"We need to work with every agency possible to keep the pressure on," he said. "We aren't going to tolerate drug activity in our community."
Jacquin is the current district commander for the City of Chandler where he oversees many different departments, including the K-9 team and the bicycle-police officer program. His 21 years of law enforcement experience in Arizona include a variety of training and a range of different positions.
He said he is interested in leadership and would "bring a lot of perspective" to the position.
"I'm looking to make a difference in an agency," he said. "It's a leadership job to create a vision. That's what (the Payson Police Department) needs. I think you're ready to raise the bar."
Jacquin said he has nothing to hide and would treat his role as chief in the same manner.
"I think that's what being a leader is about -- taking the tough questions," he said.
All five finalists will meet with Town Manager Fred Carpenter individually for interviews throughout the morning today, Friday.
Carpenter is expected to announce his choice by the end of the day.
The town council must ratify Carpenter's decision before the new chief can begin his duty.
Current Police Chief Gordon Gartner is retiring, effective the first of July.