RICHLAND — Five law enforcement veterans looking to be Richland's new top cop are in town for final evaluations and interviews.
The candidates, narrowed from an initial pool of 26 applicants, spent Tuesday participating in assessment centers that tested their ability in simulated situations.
Some of the simulations included giving a presentation to the city council, handling a personnel problem and dealing with an irate citizen.
They also had a meet-and-greet with the city council and select members of the community Tuesday night at the Richland Public Library.
Today, the candidates will be interviewed by a panel that includes city officials, community leaders and a representative from Waldron & Co., a Seattle-based consulting firm hired to help conduct the search.
Six finalists had been selected to participate in this week's evaluations, but one candidate dropped out before making the trip to Richland.
Evaluations and comments will be passed on to City Manager Cindy Johnson, who will make the final decision. Background checks and hometown visits then are expected to be completed before a job offer is made.
Former Chief Tony Corsi retired at the end of January after serving nine years as Richland's police chief and 37 years in law enforcement.
Capt. Mike Cobb is serving as the department's interim chief. City officials hope to have a new chief on board by mid-May.
The candidates are:
-- Scott Bieber, 49, Vancouver Police Department commander.
Bieber started his law enforcement career with Vancouver police 26 years ago. He said he is interested in leading Richland's police department because he likes the idea of being part of a valued-based organization and he likes how the Tri-Cities is "very progressive-minded."
Bieber has been to the Tri-Cities for conferences, talks to a friend who recently retired from an agency here and visited the area about 10 days ago.
"I really liked what I saw," he said. "The person who's selected -- and I hope it's me -- is going to inherit a great department," he said.
Bieber said that his communication skills and "open and accessible personality" are his best qualities.
-- Daniel Coulombe, 54, Hermiston police chief.
Coulombe has spent 9 1/2 years leading the Hermiston Police Department and a total of 30 years in law enforcement in Oregon, Washington and Colorado.
Coulombe said he thinks he has a wide foundation of experience to draw from, including being from the region and familiar with the Tri-Cities. He said Richland is a great city with a great police department, and being selected chief, that would provide him a "wonderful opportunity" to grow and advance in his career.
"I'm a very down-to-earth person," he said. "I enjoy being a public servant and that's why I chose this profession."
-- David Frazer, 52, from Rohnert Park, Calif.
Frazer is retired after spending 30 years in law enforcement. His last post was as chief of the newly created McFarland Police Department in Kern County, Calif.
Frazer said he was drawn to the Richland chief's post because of the way the city does business and its values of teamwork, integrity and excellence.
He also is from wine country in California, so this area would be "almost like coming back home."
His best qualities are his leadership skills his ability to build relationships and connect with people in the community.
"I love making new friends. This job is about people," Frazer said.
-- Peter Scheets, 50, assistant chief of administrative services bureau with the Bryan, Texas, Police Department.
Scheets has been with the police department in Bryan -- which he said is near College Station, Texas -- since 1996 and spent 10 years before that with the Army as a military intelligence officer.
He said he became interested in the Richland chief's post because of the city's size and because he has relatives in Seattle.
Scheets said his communication skills will help him lead the police department if he is selected.
"My ability to meet with different people and communicate effectively at any level helps build partnerships and encourages teamwork," he said.
-- Chris Skinner, 43, assistant chief of the Hillsboro, Ore., Police Department.
Skinner almost has 21 years of law enforcement experience, including 10 years with Hillsboro police -- the past three as assistant chief -- and almost 10 years with the sheriff's office in Benton County, Ore.
He grew up in Yakima, graduating from Eisenhower High, and his family still lives there. He said that when the opening came up at Richland, he thought it would be the perfect way to be closer to his family.
"It'd be a little bit of a homecoming," Skinner admits, but said he also was attracted to the stability of the community and the city's efforts to position itself for growth.
Skinner said his best qualities are his ability to identify opportunities, build partnerships within the city and collaborate with neighboring jurisdictions.
* Paula Horton: 509-582-1556; firstname.lastname@example.org