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Liberty Lake narrows police chief pool to three finalists

By Nina Culver For The Spokesman-Review

Residents of Liberty Lake recently got a chance to meet the top five candidates to be the city’s new chief of police in an online Zoom open house.

Liberty Lake Mayor Shane Brickner said he hopes to announce which candidate he has selected for the job in late November or early December, when he’ll forward the name of his pick to the city council for approval.

“We started out with a large pool of candidates, surprisingly so,” he said.

Brickner said applications trickled in during the application period and then four arrived on the last day. The city received a dozen applications total.

“It was exciting, because for a city of our size, we didn’t know what to expect,” Brickner said. “The candidates were of such high quality, it made it very difficult to even get it narrowed down to the top five.”

The city’s 14-person department was overseen by Chief Brian Asmus, the city’s first and only police chief since it incorporated in 2001, until Asmus retired in August.

Brickner said the Zoom meeting was well attended, with 61 community members signing on.

“There were citizens on there, business owners, employees from the police department,” he said.

At the end of the meeting, Brickner asked those in attendance to send him their thoughts on the candidates. He received 32 emails.

All five finalists were interviewed by two panels that included citizens and local police chiefs, Brickner said. He then sat down with both panels to discuss their opinion of each candidate and used that feedback to narrow the field further to the top three candidates.

The three finalists are Damon Simmons from the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, D. Pace of the Souderton (Pennsylvania) Borough Police Department, and Marc Denney, chief of police in La Center, Washington.

Brickner said he, City Administrator Katy Allen and Asmus interviewed each of the three final candidates last week. Brickner said it was only natural to include Asmus, who now works as director of school safety and security for the Central Valley School District, in the deliberations. Asmus knows his former officers and their personalities and would know best which candidate would be a good fit, Brickner said.

“He really created a legacy in this city,” he said. “We wanted to make sure we bring in the best candidate to continue that legacy.”

Brickner said he was looking for a candidate who would work hard for the department and the community.

“You want somebody who is very well spoken, you want somebody who is intelligent and can come across very effectively,” he said.

But primarily he was looking for someone who leads with his heart instead of perpetuating a warrior mentality, Brickner said.

“It means they see the human side of all this,” he said. “I think that’s something our department has done very well, and I want to maintain that culture.”

Asmus crafted that culture and his education, intelligence and community involvement were the key to creating it, Brickner said.

“We’ll never find another Brian, but someone who can carry that culture on,” he said. “That’s really the goal, to find someone very similar.”

The candidate selected to be the next police chief will have to pass a background check, a polygraph test and a psychological evaluation, Brickner said. Those will be completed before he presents the name of his pick to the city council. Brickner describes the required approval from the council of his selection as a formality.

“The final decision will come down to me,” he said.

The goal is to have the new police chief on the job in early December, he said.

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