New chief to police streets of Cheney

Selection process narrows choices to four applicants with experience from across the state

By Trevor Parus
Staff Writer

The City of Cheney is in the process of hiring a new police chief, narrowing their choices down to four candidates.

Last summer, former Police Chief Jeff Sale left after seven years as chief to take a position in Bend, Ore. The city of Cheney posted an opening for the position in September and received 35 applications.

According to Mayor Tom Trulove, the candidates must have had a connection to a college atmosphere to be considered. While the candidates left are different in many ways, all of them are similar in that they fulfill this criteria.

The candidates have been interviewed by multiple committees consisting of Cheney residents, as well as city and school administrators. However, the candidates have only begun the selection process.

“We’re a little more than a fourth through the process, but there is a lot more steps. The next steps involve extensive background checks, … psychological analysis testing, polygraphing, [and] physical examinations,” Trulove said.

The four remaining candidates are Rick Campbell, John Hensley, Steve Johnson and Bob Curlan.

Campbell is the interim chief of police and has been working with the Cheney Police Department for 22 years. Campbell has been a resident of Cheney since he was 11.

Campbell attended Eastern and worked as a 911 operator for most of his collegiate years. Campbell dropped out his junior year to take a full-time position with the Cheney Police Department. Campbell hopes his experience working with EWU students will be recognized when being considered.

“We want [students] to have a safe experience as a student here at Eastern. The police are not about ruining your college experience, but we ask that [students] be mindful of the other residents who are not students,” Campbell said.

Hensley is the last out-of-state candidate left. Hensley moved from California, where he had held previous police chief positions in the past. He hopes that his experience as a chief will transition well to a college community.

“In Costa Mesa, we had Vanguard University, which was situated right next to the police station. I’m not unfamiliar with the unique challenges that are presented,” Hensley said.

Hensley lives outside of Cheney in Sprague and has lived in the area since his retirement three years ago. Hensley said that retirement was unfulfilling and was eager to police again.

Steve Johnson started his law enforcement career as a security guard at Spokane Community College, later joining the Department of Corrections as a corrections officer.

Johnson currently works for the Washington Sate Patrol where he’s worked for the past 25 years.

In addition to working for the Washington State Patrol, Johnson is an adjunct professor at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash. He teaches business management and public administration. Johnson is hoping to be able to bridge a relationship between students and the police.

“I understand that the students have rights and the students have questions. It’s important that we answer those questions and meet with the students,” Johnson said.

Curlan began his career as a state trooper for the Washington State Patrol. He later moved onto working as a detective investigating staged auto accidents in Pierce County. Curlan currently resides in Spokane and works as lieutenant overseeing the evidence office.

He hopes to have an active role with the students at Eastern.

“I think it’s important for the police chief to be out there with the students so they understand who the chief is, what kind of expectations that they have, that he is a regular guy, he’s part of the community. I want to give them a voice in the community so they can be able to express themselves in a constructive way,” Curlan said.

Although the candidates will go through several interviews and community meetings, the decision lies ultimately with the mayor.

“This is a huge decision that the mayor has to make for the community. This is our community and we want the best person and the best fit for Cheney,” said Arlene Fisher, city administrator.

“It’s an unusual community where the university is the same size as the community and so clearly, the students are a very important factor. We wanted to make sure that who ever we choose understands that,” Trulove said.

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