Six appointed to panel to help choose next Paso Robles police chief

The Paso Robles City Council on Tuesday night appointed six people to help interview candidates for the city’s police chief position. In choosing appointees, the council declined to open the interview slots to a larger recruitment among the general public.

The appointees are Dennis Cassidy, a former Paso Robles police chief who was selected by Mayor Pro Tem John Hamon; Vivian Robertson, chief executive officer of the Paso Robles Event Center who was selected by Councilman Fred Strong; Armando Corella, director of the Paso Robles Housing Authority who was selected by Councilman Nick Gilman; and Al Garcia, chairman pro tem of the city’s Planning Commission and previously in the U.S. Air Force. He was chosen by Councilman Ed Steinbeck.

Mayor Duane Picanco was granted two appointees. They are Ed Bedrosian, a retired Paso Robles police chaplain and Julian Crocker, San Luis Obispo County’s superintendent of schools.

Council members spoke separately with their respective appointees to confirm their interest prior to Tuesday’s meeting, the council said.

Their selections were based on qualifications from experience with police to interviewing; and to what degree the individual represents larger groups in the community, council members said.

The appointees will serve on the three interview panels, one of several steps in the city’s process to find a new chief after the controversial departure of its former chief, Lisa Solomon, earlier this year.

Each panel will be made up of the two public members, a police chief or equivalent, a Police Officers Association representative and a top management representative from the city. The panels will be tasked with interviewing six to eight police candidates that the city’s search firm will have already narrowed from a larger pool.

At the end of August, the city had received 61 applications for the position.

City Manager Jim App previously said the panel interviews will occur during a 10-hour interview day that’s not yet scheduled. The goal is to narrow the interview pool down to the community’s top two choices by day’s end.

When the panel identifies the top two chief candidates, those applicants will take part in another round of interviews and checks in the weeks to follow. The top pick will then receive a comprehensive background check and testing. The city hopes to have a new chief by the first of the year.