DM close to picking police chief


Staff writer

The city of Des Moines is one more round of interviews from hiring a new chief to take the reins of its 80-person Police Department.

Of 53 original applicants, the city, with help from Seattle-based executive search firm Waldron and Company, has narrowed the field to the final six. City officials have been looking for a replacement for former chief Don Obermiller, who retired to eastern Washington June 15.

The city will conduct the final interviews Sept. 17 and 18. Interviews will consist of meetings with the police staff, citizens and the city manager. Candidates will get a tour of the city, too.

The salary range for the chief is $85,188 to $103,548.

Four of the six finalists hail from Washington, with John O’Leary currently serving as interim chief of the Des Moines department. Kevin Tucker is Des Moines’ division commander of administration. He served as interim chief from June 15 to Aug. 1.

Alexander Perez served in the King County Sheriff and Tukwila Police departments, and Annette Spicuzza is assistant police chief at the University of Washington.

Roger Baker is chief of the Anaheim, Calif. Police Department, and Alan Pepin is the interim chief of police in Omaha, Neb.

City manager Tony Piasecki said he was interested in candidates from Washington because they already know a about the state and its laws, but that isn’t “an absolute must-have.”

“I’m looking for someone who can be the face of the Police Department in Des Moines, who can relate to not only the officers, but to the community –– someone known in the community as the police chief, not someone in the background who is quiet and no one knows who he or she is. I want (citizens) to feel comfortable picking up the phone and talking to him or her,” Piasecki said.

In addition, he said, the new chief should continue Obermiller’s legacy of “reacting to any problems we’ve had in town and staying up to speed with police technology.”

A community reception for the chief finalists will be held Sept. 17 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at the Des Moines Activity Center, 2045 S. 216th St.

Staff writer Erica Hall: 925-5565,

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