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Hobbs narrows police chief search

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Gabrielle Arsiaga/News-Sun

Interviews are underway for the next police chief for the City of Hobbs.

Out of nine applicants, the city is down to the final four.

The pool includes a professor at the University of Texas at El Paso, the current interim chief of police for the Hobbs Police Department, the director of safety and security at ASM Global, and a surveillance manager at Laguna Development Corporation.

The following are the final four candidates for the chief of police position:

• Jesus E. Campa of El Paso, Texas. He has a Master’s and Bachelor’s degree, and works as an adjunct professor at the University of Texas at El Paso and a CEO of America’s Best Strategic Security Group. He also has prior experience as a police chief/deputy chief.

• August Fons of Hobbs. He has a Doctorate, Master’s and Bachelor’s degree and is currently serving as the interim chief of police for the City of Hobbs. He has prior experience as a master law enforcement instructor, served as the director of the Law Enforcement Academy, as a deputy N.M. cabinet secretary, and a police captain.

• Virgil L. Green of Oklahoma City, Okla. He has a Bachelor’s degree and works as the director of safety and security as ASM Global and the Oklahoma City Convention Center. He has prior experience as a chief of police/ deputy chief.

• Jesus F. Orozco of Los Lunas, N.M. He has a Bachelor’s degree and works as a surveillance manager at Laguna Development Corporation. He has prior experience as a public safety department director.

The position will lead a department of 161 staff members with 106 certified officers, and pays up to $167,690 annually.

Fons was appointed interim chief of police for HPD by City Manager Manny Gomez following the resignation of former HPD police chief John Ortolano on Jan. 8, ending his 20-plus year law enforcement career, with the past three years serving as HPD chief.

Ortolano, worked 21 years in law enforcement in Arizona, in various areas of the Arizona Department of Public Safety, before coming to Hobbs. In Arizona, Ortolano was assigned to the Criminal Investigations Division, as the district commander with the Gang Enforcement Bureau, and a captain and a sergeant with Arizona DPS.

Ortolano told the News-Sun in interview in December of last year, his reason for resigning was the state of New Mexico’s inability to make changes conducive to law enforcement.

“The state as a whole is not doing anything, in my opinion, to be a positive influence on law enforcement,” Ortolano told the News-Sun. “I am not seeing anything on the horizon that is good for New Mexico.”

The city began seeking applications for police chief in mid-January and made changes to the job description.

According to Human Resources Director Nicholas Goulet, the job description now entails an increase in the years of command level experience as well as a change from the minimum of lieutenant experience to captain level.

“We talked about setting the standard for what we would consider a command level officer. That was set at captain level and above for previous experience,” Goulet said. “Beforehand, (the requirement) was a lieutenant level of experience and we also increased the number of years of command officer required for that level. It was five years of command level experience and now we’ve upped that to six. We wanted more experience at a command level experience and we wanted a higher degree of command level experience as far as what we are looking for in our candidate moving forward.”

Among the requirements, the next HPD chief must live within a 5-mile radius of the city.

The position is advertised with an annual salary between $96,018 and $167,690. Ortolano resigned with an annual salary of $144,227.20. He was the fifth highest paid city employee among the city’s 529-person workforce.

HPD ranks in the top five starting pay rates among law enforcement agencies in New Mexico at $27.77 per hour or $57,761 annually for certified officers.

Goulet said in person interviews will start April 5 and will be conducted by a panel of members comprised of residents of Hobbs, the police union, fraternal order of police union, and City of Hobbs employee members.

After the in person interviews are completed, a list ranking the candidates will be given to City Manager Manny Gomez for final selection.

The application process for police chief is extensive, Goulet said. Each applicant is asked to list every job they have held in their adult life, every address at which they’ve lived, to provide a copy of their current motor vehicle record and education transcripts, and to disclose any form of illegal drug use throughout their lives.

Gabrielle Arsiaga may be reached at courts@hobbsnews.com

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