City to repay thousands as Camper named chief

Police Chief John Camper

City officials Tuesday said John Camper will be Grand Junction’s next chief of police, while announcing plans to repay more than $43,000 to Camper’s former employer.

Working on an interim basis as chief for the past five months, Camper, 51, was plucked by City Manager Laurie Kadrich from a group of six announced finalists for the permanent job, five of whom were put through a battery of interviews last week.

“John is a great police chief, as evidenced in a variety of ways during the last five months,” Kadrich said in a news release. “John’s strong leadership skills and overall approachable nature made him the obvious choice.”

Camper’s appointment will be effective Sunday. He will earn an annual salary of $120,032, plus benefits, the release said.

City spokeswoman Sam Rainguet said Grand Junction agreed to repay the City of Lakewood some $43,800. Rainguet said Lakewood officials didn’t ask for their money back.

“We understand it’s the right thing to do,” she said. “John’s gained knowledge and experience here, and Lakewood will not be benefiting from it.”

In what was described in August as a cooperative agreement between the two cities, Lakewood agreed to continue paying Camper’s annual salary of $113,880, while Grand Junction would reimburse Camper for temporary housing and vehicle-related expenses. Camper’s on-loan contractual status expired Monday.

A 29-year veteran of the Lakewood Police Department, Camper was personally selected by former Grand Junction Police Chief Bill Gardner to lead the department after Gardner’s resignation in July. Camper’s first day was Aug. 31.

Camper said during a news conference in August he wasn’t interested in the permanent chief’s job in Grand Junction.

A 1977 graduate of Central High School, Camper will be the department’s third chief in five years and the 20th in its history.

“It’s my intention to retire from here,” said Camper, who described a “tough” interview process lasting Thursday through Saturday, involving city staff, fellow officers and community members. “I’m very gratified I was asked to stay.”

Rainguet said all but one finalist showed for last week’s interviews. Gary Adams, chief of police in University Park, Texas, withdrew his name Jan. 21, citing personal reasons, Rainguet said.

The other finalists from a field of 73 applicants were: Craig Black, assistant police chief, West Valley City, Utah; Mark Puthuff, police chief, Fort Bragg, Calif.; Bob Richardson, operations commander, Irvine, Calif., and Chris Sutter, assistant police chief, Vancouver, Wash.

Rainguet said Grand Junction reimbursed Camper to the tune of $11,300, which covered rent on a home in Grand Junction and utilities during Camper’s interim period on the job. The monies also covered out-of-pocket expenses for gas and routine maintenance on a city vehicle used by Camper, she said.


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