Editorial: Tough job ahead in deciding city's next police chief

As Cottonwood continues to narrow the field in its search for a new police chief, those tasked with the job have to decide whether it's best to hire from within or tap into the talent of an outside agency.

Hiring from within certainly has the benefit of familiarity, but it also brings with it the pitfalls of perpetuating the status quo. Hiring someone with no prior ties to Cottonwood PD can infuse healthy new ideas into the department, but at the same time you run the risk of having someone in charge who does not know the community.

Cottonwood has taken both roads, filling jobs not only at the police department but throughout the city government structure. It's no secret that City Manager Doug Bartosh is a proponent of succession training and bringing employees through the ranks to mid- and senior-level management.

Certainly, he made a great call when he promoted Jody Fanning from within to be Cottonwood's police chief.

But by the same token, Bartosh's city manager predecessor, Brian Mickelsen, made a great call when he hired Bartosh to succeed the retiring Pat Spence as Cottonwood's top cop.

Bartosh would go on to succeed Mickelsen at one of the darkest times in the city's history. His broad-range understanding of city government surprised many considering he had been a career police officer.

This final batch of police chief applicants includes three officers from within the Cottonwood department. All three are officers that we know and all of whom have done their job over the years in a way that inspires public confidence. If that plays to their advantage, it is for good reason.

But you have to weigh the Bartosh-factor as well. He was an outsider when he joined Cottonwood PD and he has been an undeniable asset to the city both as its chief of police as well as the Cottonwood city manager. Few would have the skill-set to help a city grow and prosper during a recession the way Bartosh did with Cottonwood.

Certainly, it's nice to have that sense of familiarity and proven track record that we have with the three in-house finalists for this job.

But we also have a textbook example of how beneficial it can be to bring new blood into the fold.

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