POULSBO — Poulsbo could have a new police chief soon — possibly before the weekend — and Mayor Becky Erickson said Thursday she’s “leaning toward Alan Townsend,” the police chief of Port Orchard.
Townsend, 47, emerged Tuesday as a surprise candidate for Poulsbo police chief; he had served on a panel that interviewed other contenders for the job. Those candidates met the public in an open house Jan. 30 at City Hall.
Erickson issued a press release Tuesday announcing that Townsend was a now a candidate and that an open house would be scheduled for the next day in City Hall so residents could meet him.
Townsend, who lives near Bangor, said that while participating as a panelist “I was really impressed with City Hall and how it operates. There was an opportunity there and I decided to give it a try. It would be a new challenge for me.”
Tuesday, City Clerk Jill Boltz said Townsend applied for the job through The Prothman Company, the recruitment firm retained by the city, and would undergo the same scrutiny as the other candidates. “It’s a very thorough process … We are definitely doing our due diligence,” she said.
Erickson said Thursday there are advantages to hiring Townsend. “It would be a seamless transition,” she said. “He knows a lot of things about our community, he lives in Bangor, six or seven minutes from Poulsbo. He’s really a remarkable man and a great police chief.”
Erickson said her accommodation of Townsend’s late candidacy was not a reflection on the other five candidates: Robert Griffiths, former police chief of Cordova, Alaska; Stephen MacKinnon, former police chief of Santa Paula, Calif.; Stephen Mauer, a lieutenant with the Lakewood Police Department; Julius “Phil” Schenck, acting police chief of Sunnyside; and C. Stephen Sutton, a division commander with the Washington State Patrol.
“We had some really talented people finish our internal process,” she said. “It’s a complex process, and it should be ... The goal is to find the best police chief.”
Erickson said she wants the next chief on the job by the beginning of March.
Townsend said he didn’t know he’d become a candidate when he interviewed other contenders for the job.
“I had a conversation with the mayor and she asked if I’d be interested in doing that,” he said. “It was a mutual thing. Both of us saw there was some interest. I was highly impressed with what I saw, the way the council and mayor and department heads interacted. It was refreshing.”
He said of his own interview, “I suspect that I’m not going to see the same questions” asked of the other candidates. Port Orchard Mayor Tim Matthes issued a statement Tuesday about his police chief’s interest in leaving for Poulsbo.
“Chief Alan Townsend is well respected in our community. I have had a great working relationship these past 12 months with him,” Matthes said.
“I am very impressed with his professionalism and dedication to our police department. I am not surprised that he is on the short list of qualified candidates for Poulsbo police chief. If he is selected and accepts that position, he will be close to his home and family. There is no doubt he will be hard for Port Orchard to replace. ”
Townsend, 47, has been Port Orchard’s chief of police since 1999 and earns $126,000 a year; the Poulsbo job was advertised with a base salary of $101,000 to $106,000 a year. Prior to Port Orchard, he was with the Lincoln, Neb., Police Department. He has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Nebraska, a master’s degree in criminal justice administration from Boston University, and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy.
Boltz said she worked with Townsend in Port Orchard when she was interim deputy clerk there. “He’s well rounded, well educated, and very easy to work with.”