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Ukiah Police Chief Candidates

Three candidates remained in the running for the Ukiah police chief position last week as what was expected to be the final round of interviews was conducted Friday, according to one of the local applicants.

Greg Van Patten, currently a captain with the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, said he applied for the position vacated by the firing of former Ukiah Police Department Chief Noble Waidelich last June, as he felt it would be “irresponsible for me to not throw my hat in the ring, given my ties to the community, and my knowledge and experience in local law enforcement.”

Van Patten said he has enjoyed a good working relationship with the Interim UPD Chief, Cedric Crook, and that he felt the department could benefit from their contrasting styles if he were offered the position.

Van Patten said that by Thursday, his understanding was that three candidates remained for the final round of interviews: Van Patten, Crook and a male candidate from a department in Yolo County.

When asked for comment Friday, Interim UPD Chief Crook confirmed that he had applied for the permanent position, but declined to comment further until city officials announced their decision.

Neither Crook nor Van Patten said they had been given a timeline of when the new chief would be chosen or announced.

When asked Friday who the candidates still being interviewed were and when the city expected to announce its decision, Deputy City Manager Shannon Riley said in an email: “We don’t disclose candidate names for any position, so I can’t tell you who is being interviewed. That said, we are in the process of conducting interviews, but this is just a part of the process. This recruitment effort has been methodical, transparent, and collaborative; we’re not rushing into decisions here. Our first and foremost concern is ensuring that we have the right Police Chief for the community and for the agency. As soon as a decision is made, we’ll send a press release.”

Three months after the firing of Waidelich, the city hired a Sacramento-area firm called Mosaic to handle the search for his replacement, a significant departure from the previous chief selections, which had been internal promotions. At the time of the firm’s selection, city staff noted that “Mosaic’s approach, confirmed by their interview, is responsive and transparent, with a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. The first step of the process will be to work with the ad hoc committee and identify stakeholders to develop a candidate profile that reflects the community’s and the organization’s needs.”

The city has had three police chiefs in the past four years, and began searching for a new chief less than a year after naming Capt. Waidelich to replace Justin Wyatt in the fall of 2021. Waidelich, a longtime employee who rose through the ranks to become second-in-command upon the retirement of Capt. Sean Kaeser in late 2020, was fired in June for reasons that the city has yet to fully disclose to the public.

At the time, officials pointed to a criminal investigation into Waidelich by the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office which has since been completed and sent to the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office. No charges stemming from that investigation have been announced.

(Ukiah Daily Journal)

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