Fairbanks police chief finalists attend public forum, police shortage a main topic

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska Fairbanks Police Chief Eric Jewkes will be retiring at the end of the month.

Mayor Jim Matherly assembled a panel of local law enforcement leaders, military leaders and community leaders to help in the hiring process for the new police chief, and Monday there was a public panel forum with the three finalists.

Lt. Col Ryan Gillogly has lived in Fairbanks since 2014. He has been a military police officer and is currently the Director of Emergency Services for Fort Wainwright. He has 22 years of experience in military law enforcement and public safety positions.

Nancy Reeder is currently a Lt. with the Anchorage Police Department where she has worked for 35 years. Before that she served in the Air Force and Alaska Air National Guard.

Gregory Foster grew up in Fairbanks and has been with the Fairbanks Police Department since 1998. He is currently a Lt. with the FPD and the Team Commander for the Tactical Police Team.

During the forum finalists where asked questions about diversity, responding to people with mental issues and how to help department moral. The ongoing police shortage was a big topic of discussion with each of the candidates giving their thoughts on how to solve the ongoing problem.

"If we put out some of the activities that our officers enjoy outside their job, that adds to the luster of the Golden Heart City that this city provides to us," Foster said.

The department is currently short seven officers with four more expected to retire in the coming months.

"As an applicant to FPD, I submitted my application in December and its April and I have not heard any follow up on that," Gillogly said. "Research has shown that departments that have streamline processes and keep applicants informed are much more competitive when it comes to hiring people, because the average police applicant that is not geographically tied to the location that they are applying at is going to go for that first job."

One thing all the finalists talked about was using social media to help promote the department.

"You can recruit and retain people when you have a department and agency that is positive, that is happy, that likes where they work and you know the employees enjoy where they're at," said Reeder. "And that goes back to that Facebook, and not so much Facebook anymore, but Instagram and Twitter. Getting little things out day to day about what the department is doing, that interaction with the community.”

The panel gave their input to the mayor today and he is expected to make his choice later this week.

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