More than 40 apply to be the next police chief of Paso Robles

Forty-three candidates are vying to be Paso Robles’ new police chief as a recruiting firm sorts through the first batch of applications in the city’s second search for a new leader since last spring.

The application period in the national search closed March 1.

William Avery & Associates Inc. in Los Gatos is now evaluating the applications.

The city hopes to have a new chief by summer.

Avery & Associates is doing the work for free because the city’s last chief finalist, San Diego Police Department Capt. Manny Guaderrama, dropped out at the last minute after a nearly yearlong search in 2012.

After initial interviews and preliminary reference checks narrow the pool to six, a citizen’s panel will choose the top two candidates.

The panelists’ interview session is scheduled for April 5, according to the city.

Specifics on the candidates, including where they are from, wasn’t immediately available. But search firm president Bill Avery said several are from out of state.

About 20 of the 43 applicants merited a closer look, he said, and most of the applicants from the first round didn’t apply this time.

In the first round of the search last year, Paso Robles received 61 applications for the position, including some from San Luis Obispo County.

Acting Paso Robles Police Chief Robert Burton confirmed earlier this year that he applied in the second round.

The police department first began searching for a new chief following the departure of Lisa Solomon last spring and resumed for a second time this winter when Guaderrama bowed out.

Solomon resigned after a former officer, Brennan Lux, accused her of sexual harassment and another claimed officers were required to meet illegal ticket quotas.

Both issues became lawsuits against the city. The ticket quota case is still active while the sexual harassment case was recently thrown out because the officer failed to compile his evidence in time. In February, Lux said he stands by his claim and may re-file.

On Tuesday, the Paso Robles City Council confirmed the reappointment of citizen panelists to conduct police chief candidate interviews.

The appointees are Dennis Cassidy, a former Paso Robles police chief; Vivian Robertson, chief executive officer of the Paso Robles Event Center; Armando Corella, director of the Paso Robles Housing Authority; Al Garcia, chairman pro tem of the city’s Planning Commission; Ed Bedrosian, a retired Paso Robles police chaplain; and Matt Masia, a local hotelier and board member of the Paso Robles Main Street Association.

The council appointed the panelists in October during the first search. The picks were based on experience with police and interviewing skills, as well as how each individual represented larger groups in the community.

When the panel identifies the top two chief candidates, those applicants will take part in another round of interviews with the council and City Manager Jim App. The top pick will then undergo a comprehensive background check and testing.

Guaderrama dropped out during the last phase in late December, citing personal and financial reasons.

Paso Robles’ next chief will oversee the department's roughly $8.3 million budget for about 51 employees, including officers, dispatchers and other staff for a city of nearly 30,000 people.

The position’s salary is up to $160,020 per year, excluding benefits.