Ontario continues search for police chief

ONTARIO – A nationwide hunt for Ontario’s next police chief drew just five applicants last month, and only one has been invited to interview in person.

That candidate is due to visit the city next week.

All five applications came from out-of-state – Hawaii, California and Illinois. Officials say they are still open to more applications.

The city began advertising the position in January after then-Chief Cal Kunz announced his resignation. After an initial Jan. 31 deadline, city staff reviewed the applications and scheduled an initial round of phone interviews.

City Manager Adam Brown and interim Chief Jason Cooper conducted the telephone interviews last week. Brown said they talked with only four candidates because one candidate, from Hawaii, dropped out. 

Brown said his staff invited one candidate for an onsite interview on Feb. 26. 

Brown, Cooper, city department heads and Lt. Mark Duncan from Oregon State Police will participate in the interview.

However, Brown said the city is still accepting applications for position, and he wishes the city had “a stronger pool of candidates” to choose from. 

Brown said the focus is on whether the person would fit the leadership “culture” in Ontario, where city leaders tend to take “a more collaborative approach to things.” 

“We want someone who can fit with our leadership philosophy,” Brown said, adding that a “command and control” leadership approach would not mesh well.

As the city narrows its search, Brown said, city officials will need to negotiate salary. Brown said the previous police chief salary at roughly $84,000 was “not competitive” enough, and that’s something the city needs to consider to if it is to attract more applicants.