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Search for new police chief likely to wait until new city manager

 

The search for a new Sidney police chief will likely wait until spring, after a city manager is hired.

Both positions became vacant in recent months after Gary Person stepped down as city manager in August, followed by B.J. Wilkinson as police chief in October.

Assistant chief Joe Aikens is now the ranking officer in charge, said Jo Houser, the city's human resources director.

"Right now, the plan, because it seems to be working, is to wait until a city manager is hired," she explained.

An executive recruitment firm has been hired to help find a new city manager. At a council meeting in November, mayor Mark Nienhueser said a job offer for the chief executive of the city could be made in February.

"Once the city manager is hired, we'll start the advertising process [for the police chief]," Houser said.

While state statute relegates the responsibility of ensuring candidates meet eligibility qualifications to the city's Civil Service Commission, the city manager ultimately decides who to hire. By delaying the search for a new chief police, the incoming city manager will have a role in the hiring process.

While Aikens is currently Sidney's top cop, he has not been named the acting or interim police chief because temporary appointments in the police department can't exceed four months, Houser said.

"We thought because he's done this before, and he was OK with the decision, that we'd go ahead and wait," she explained.

Aikens served as the ranking officer in charge for nearly 18 months between the tenures of former police chiefs Larry Cox and Mike Brown, Houser said.

 

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