Cottonwood council to decide salary for new Police Chief

Steve Gesell has risen to the top of a short list of six candidates that met the public in early November.

Steve Gesell has risen to the top of a short list of six candidates that met the public in early November.

COTTONWOOD -- The Cottonwood City Council will hold a special meeting Tuesday, specifically to consider a proposed salary for the recommended candidate to replace Police Chief Jody Fanning, who will retire after 30 years.

The council will meet at noon in council chambers, 826 N. Main St.

Steve Gesell has risen to the top of a short list of six candidates that met the public in early November.

Gesell spent more than 20 years with Scottsdale Police where he retired as commander. Gesell has broad police experience and served five years as commander of SWAT. He returned to California where he had grown up and went on to work in Atascadero Police Dept. as commander and acting chief. Most recently, he satisfied a goal becoming police chief in San Luis Obispo. He told the audience at the public meeting that a challenging political environment led to his separation after three and a half years.

The council Tuesday will be asked to decide on a recommended salary for the new chief. Gesell was paid $163,000 per year in San Luis Obisbo, with a population of 45,000.

According to information forwarded to the City Council, Gesell asked for a starting salary of $120,000 and Cottonwood countered with $115,000, which is the average of six Central Arizona cities and towns.

The police chief's salary in Cottonwood ranges from $75,649 to a maximum of $132,377. The current salary paid is $116,434.

Gesell describes himself as an Army brat who enrolled at Arizona State University at age 19, where he completed a BA in Justice Studies, and applied to Scottsdale Police as a senior. He stayed in Arizona for the next 23 years, eventually finishing a Masters in Educational Leadership at Northern Arizona University.

Gesell also attended the Drug Enforcement Administration Commanders Academy. He is an AZPOST fitness instructor, has been an adjunct professor at Northwestern University and Scottsdale Community College. He worked closely with the business community in San Luis Obispo to educate the public and find solutions to homeless issues.

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