Pocatello Mayor Brian Blad has a big decision to make regarding who should be the city’s next police chief.
The good news is that there are three highly qualified finalists to take the place of current Police Chief Scott Marchand, who’s retiring.
The finalists include current Pocatello Deputy Police Chief Roger Schei, retired Pocatello Deputy Police Chief Jim Peterson and U.S. Marshal Brian Underwood.
We have no doubt that any of these three individuals would serve the city very well as its next police chief.
We don’t envy Mayor Blad because the choice confronting him is far from easy, but we do have some advice for him.
First off, Pocatello recently made national news when a study announced in USA Today named the city as the most dangerous community in Idaho. The study, conducted by 24/7 Wall Street, used crime data to give Pocatello that unsettling designation.
This isn’t the first time Pocatello has been called out for its apparent high crime rate.
There’s at least a perception among many local people that the Gate City isn’t as safe as it was 10 years ago. Serious crimes seem like they regularly occur in Pocatello and it’s not just bad guys going after bad guys, as evidenced by the elderly woman who was stabbed to death in her home not even two months ago.
Pocatello’s next police chief needs to address the feeling many of us have that crime in the Gate City is getting worse.
Disputing this perception is akin to ignoring the problem. We need a police chief who’s going to crack down on crime, arrest criminals and usher in an era in which our city is praised for its safety rather than criticized for its lawlessness.
Equally difficult is that we need a chief who’s going to unite the Pocatello Police Department’s members so that they like their jobs and want to go to work. From the outside looking in, the department seems to possibly have some internal issues. One member of the Police Department has filed a lawsuit against the department’s leadership and city government over the way he feels he’s been treated. Another member of the department ran for mayor in what turned out to be an unsuccessful attempt to oust Blad.
Pocatello police union morale surveys in recent years have painted a picture that many of the department’s officers and civilian employees are unhappy and don’t trust their leadership.
During the past year, the mood in the Police Department appears to be improving, so maybe these internal issues are in the rear-view mirror.
Regardless, we want a police chief who’s going to confront whatever internal issues the department is facing rather than claim that surveys showing poor department morale are the work of a few disgruntled individuals.
That being said, we are sympathetic to the dangers, stresses and tensions of being a police officer in 2019 America. It seems that almost daily a police officer somewhere in America is ambushed and killed for no other reason than he or she is wearing the badge. The American public demands much from law enforcement officers, is quick to criticize them for any perceived mistakes and true appreciation for what they do is often absent.
Pocatello is fortunate that it has so many individuals willing to serve as police officers with the Police Department and we’re even more fortunate to have three highly qualified individuals willing to do a possibly even more thankless job — that being to serve as Pocatello’s police chief.
The bottom line is that the Pocatello Police Department is extremely capable of performing its mission — protecting and serving the citizens of Pocatello.
Any internal issues aside, the Gate City’s men and women in blue clearly have a passion for their work and are highly motivated when it comes to solving crimes and arresting criminals. When the elderly woman was stabbed to death in March, for example, two suspects were swiftly arrested.
No one can question the dedication of the Pocatello Police Department’s officers and civilian staff, and the department’s leadership — Marchand, Schei and the recently retired Peterson — deserve credit for this dedication.
The city’s next chief of police needs to continue this crime fighting tradition. Anything less is unacceptable and will be a step backward for our community.
The world can be a dangerous place and Pocatello is clearly no exception.
The leader of our police force plays a vital role in defending our community from anyone who wants to steal, do harm or otherwise break the law here.
We’re thankful that we have three outstanding candidates to be the next leader of the Pocatello Police Department.
The one who can best address our community’s concerns about crime, can best serve the men and women who comprise our city’s thin blue line, and can best maintain our police force’s proven ability to put criminals behind bars needs to get the job.
If Mayor Blad considers these priorities for selecting Pocatello’s next police chief, we’re confident his choice will be the right one.