The search for Paradise Valley’s new police chief has been narrowed to two finalists.
Nancy Gardner, town marshall for Camp Verde, Arizona and Peter Wingert, police chief for Wickenburg, are the finalists after a comprehensive assessment and interview process April 17-18. Both have very strong backgrounds in community-oriented policing.
Ms. Gardner has over 25 years of law enforcement experience and is currently the town marshal (police chief) of Camp Verde, Ariz. She previously served as a division commander and SWAT commander in the Avondale Police Department and a division commander in the Gilbert Police Department.
Mr. Wingert has 23 years of law enforcement experience and currently serves as police chief for Wickenburg. Prior to Wickenburg, he was the undersheriff for the Flathead County, Mont. Sheriff’s Office.
Town Manager Kevin Burke will decide on the top candidate to replace Interim Public Safety Director Larry Ratcliff who was appointed in September 2014 after former Chief John Bennett retired after serving for seven years.
The town’s search started in January. The process included a 30-day national advertising period that yielded over 80 candidates for the position. Of those, 12 were selected for initial screenings with the top five identified to go through an on-site assessment.
Candidates were evaluated by both civilian and sworn police department personnel, police volunteers, town directors, the interim public safety director and the town manager. They also met with the mayor and town council informally.
The final portion of the process will include an extensive background investigation on the two. Paradise Valley’s next police chief is expected to be announced in May.