Crime

3 finalists still in contention for Pasco police chief. When could the decision come?

Pasco police first in Tri-Cities to use body cams

Pasco Police Department officers are the first in the Tri-Cities to use body cameras. The department will be issuing a camera to each officer to use.
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Pasco Police Department officers are the first in the Tri-Cities to use body cameras. The department will be issuing a camera to each officer to use.

Pasco leaders say it will be at least another week before a new police chief is named.

The three finalists met with different community groups and leaders for interviews July 31 to Aug. 1.

They are Pasco’s Deputy Police Chief Ken Roske, Sunnyside Police Chief Albert Escalera and Capt. Charles Goeken from Manteca, Calif.

A fourth candidate, Maj. Thomas Worthy, with the Oregon State Police, dropped out of the running because of a personal emergency.

Pasco officials are still working on background checks and other evaluations of the remaining three, and do not have an announcement yet, said Jon Funfar, the city’s communications manager.

They started searching for a replacement for former police Chief Bob Metzger since before his retirement in April.

Issaquah-based Prothman Co. is heading up the hunt, along with Bob Carden, the company’s specialist for finding new police chiefs.

The five-month search narrowed 17 applicants down to five finalists, including Worthy and another candidate who was hired elsewhere.

“We’re lucky to have three qualified folks as well,” Carden said during the recent public forum.

Albert Escalera

Sunnyside Police Chief Albert Escalera is looking to return to Pasco after years of living in the city, but working in other places.

He started his 35-year law enforcement career in Pasco as a community service officer before joining the Washington State Patrol.

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Albert Escalera

“Pasco is where I reside,” he said. “My wife and I have resided here the majority of our lives. We raised our children here. We’re very excited and we’re very humbled by the opportunity.”

After finishing his time with the state patrol, he worked in West Richland from 2011 to 2014, before moving on to be the chief in Sunnyside. He was excited about getting a chance to lead a top-notch department, he said.

He said his experience across different organizations and communities make him a unique candidate for the spot. It gives him a wider perspective than others might have.

Escalera was one of two finalists that Richland leaders passed over during their search for a new chief. Richland has restarted its search.

Charles Goeken

Goeken, a U.S. Navy veteran, is familiar with Washington state, having served in Bremerton. He left the Navy so he could spend more time with his children, and found a career in law enforcement.

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Capt. Charles Goeken, Manteca, Calif., Police Department

After the police academy, he worked in Manteca for 25 years.

He and his wife of 30 years have four grown sons and have decided its a good time to return to Washington.

“We really enjoyed it while we were here, and we loved the people,” he said. “The things that I’ve learned serving in the Navy, and serving my community is that we’re a lot more alike than we are different.”

He believes in creating connections with the community, so that people will approach him with questions. He believes he can carry build on the Pasco department’s successes.

Ken Roske

A longtime fixture in the Pasco Police Department, Roske was picked last year for the No. 2 spot in the department.

As a 33-year veteran in the department he has seen and been part of its development and improvement, he said.

Most recently he led efforts to become one of a dozen police agencies in the state to get accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.

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Pasco Police Deputy Chief Ken Roske

He said that history and background make him stand apart from the other candidates.

“We have a lot that we can go back and look at as far as success, and I want to continue those successes and make sure we don’t drop the ball on any of those areas,” he said.

With the growth coming to the city during the next two decades, he wants to make sure the department continues to hire quality officers and maintains the policies that helped them receive accreditation.

“I have seen Pasco in some of its most challenging times ... and then obviously the successes that we’re reaping today with a vibrant community that appreciates a transparent law enforcement organization,” he said.

Cameron Probert covers breaking news and education for the Tri-City Herald, where he tries to answer readers’ questions about why police officers and firefighters are in your neighborhood. He studied communications at Washington State University.
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