Three finalists for Wichita police chief were announced Thursday: Joel Fitzgerald Sr., the Allentown, Pa., police chief; Terri Moses, the Wichita school district safety director; and Gregory Stevens, an assistant police chief in Lubbock, Texas.
City Manager Robert Layton said he hopes to announce a final decision in early September, following an Aug. 31 forum where the public will get to meet the candidates and ask them questions.
“Any of the final three would make a terrific police chief,” said Mayor Jeff Longwell during the announcement of the three finalists Thursday at City Hall.
Fitzgerald, who has been police chief in Allentown since December 2013, also served as police chief in Missouri City, Texas, from 2009 to 2013 and as the commanding officer for a narcotics unit in Philadelphia, the city said in news release summarizing the candidates’ backgrounds.
Moses, currently executive director of safety services for the Wichita school district, is a former Wichita deputy police chief who worked for the Police Department for 32 years.
Stevens, an assistant police chief in Lubbock, Texas, has worked there since 1992 and has been in his current rank since 2004. He is a retired intelligence officer with the U.S. Navy.
Longwell said he has full confidence that Layton will make the correct final choice. The mayor said he has been impressed with personnel selections the city manager has made during the past several years.
Layton said he will be taking input from everyone as he considers his decision.
The selection process began with more than 30 applicants, from which five semifinalists were eventually chosen. Layton wouldn’t give the names of the two semifinalists who didn’t make the final cut. The city hired the International Association of Chiefs of Police as a recruiter and selection consultant, and candidates were vetted, Layton said.
The process included interviews of the semifinalists and has involved a citizens advisory panel, city officials, members of the Police Department, regional law enforcement officials and the mayor and vice mayor.
Originally, Layton was to pick two finalists, but the three people who ended up being finalists emerged as being worthy, Layton said.
These “three names (Fitzgerald, Moses and Stevens) kind of rose through the interview process,” he said.
The president of the police union, Paul Zamorano, said in an email: “We have trust in the selection process and look forward to speaking to the candidates in person.”
In a prepared statement that was part of Layton’s remarks, he said, “This has been an extensive and transparent process.”
The Wichita police chief oversees the state’s largest police department, with a budget of almost $82 million and 836 employees, the city said.
Police Chief Norman Williams retired in September 2014.
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Meet the finalists for police chief
When: 6:30-9:30 p.m. Aug. 31
Where: Century II Convention Hall, 225 W. Douglas
What: public forum featuring the finalists for police chief. Bob Layton, the city manager, will moderate.