Search for new Steamboat police chief begins |

Search for new Steamboat police chief begins

File photo of a Steamboat Springs Police Department car. (Photo by John F. Russell)

As Steamboat Springs Police Department Chief Cory Christensen prepares to end his tenure with the city, City Manager Gary Suiter said he hopes to have the position filled by the end of the year.

The city has hired Public Sector Search and Consulting Inc., a California-based search firm specializing in hiring government employees. The firm will recruit candidates from around the country, and Suiter said he has asked them to search specifically from organizations such as the National Black Police Association and the International Association of Women Police to ensure the city is considering candidates with diverse backgrounds.

“We like Public Sector Search because of their approach to diversity and recruitment,” Suiter said.

Candidates will then go through multiple rounds of interviews with different panels and complete a series of background checks. Finalists will be invited to tour the city, meet members of the police department and meet with City Council. Suiter said council members, officers and police department staff will all have a say in the decision, which is ultimately up to him.

“These candidates need to be squeaky clean, and there are a ton of background checks that are done,” Suiter said. “Hopefully, we end up with a good candidate.”

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Suiter said the search process takes about four to six months, but if the city finds a candidate they approve of sooner than the six-month timeline, the position could be filled before the peak of the ski season, when the city is at its busiest.

“You do want to allow enough time to search for a position of this importance,” Suiter added.

Christensen said he believes the new chief needs to have a desire to continue learning and a commitment to implementing new practices as the world changes and law enforcement adapts.

“I hope the next chief continues to be community-centered and someone who has progressive, best practices ideas,” Christensen said. “I’m into continuous improvement. … I hope the next chief has an open mind on how to move the organization forward.”

Suiter said he has had candidates apply for previous job openings without researching what it’s like to live in a mountain town — including the cold temperatures, expensive living and community needs. He said it’s crucial for the next chief to understand those facets of the community before accepting the job.

“We get a lot of people from the South or other places who say they love Colorado, and they’ve always wanted to move here, but they’ve never been to Steamboat and maybe don’t fully know what they would be getting into,” Suiter said. “You definitely want someone that either is familiar with living in a resort community or really has a strong desire to move to a resort community and live the lifestyle that we enjoy here.”

Christensen said a community’s character can be learned over time, but good leadership skills and a solid understanding of law enforcement as a profession are the two most crucial qualities in a candidate.

“It’s someone that has good skills to run a professional policing agency,” Christensen said.

Christensen is officially leaving in September, and Suiter will appoint an interim chief until a permanent replacement is hired.

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