Interim police chief wants to stay

Interim GJP Chief John Camper is greeted by Dist Att. Pete Hautzinger as Retiring Chief Bill Gardner, right, looks on at the Mesa County Justice Center Monday.

A field of candidates to be Grand Junction’s next chief of police includes a man who initially wasn’t interested in the job.
Interim Grand Junction Chief John Camper, who has filled a temporary post while maintaining employment with the Lakewood Police Department, said last week he has applied for the permanent job in Grand Junction.

Camper said during a news conference in August that he wasn’t interested in the position.

“I’m enjoying the job and community, and I’ve developed a great respect and affinity for the staff and employees of both the department and the city,” Camper said of his change of heart.

Camper was tabbed in September by former Grand Junction Police Chief Bill Gardner to lead the department after Gardner’s surprise resignation in July. Camper’s agreement calls for him to serve through Jan. 30.

In what was described by city officials at the time as a cooperative agreement between Grand Junction and Lakewood, local authorities agreed to reimburse Camper for housing and a business vehicle, while Camper’s annually salary of $113,800 would continue to be paid by Lakewood.

Aside from Camper, it wasn’t immediately clear if there were other internal candidates seeking the job.

Deputy Chief John Zen, a 29-year veteran of the department, said he’s not interested.

“I think it’s important the next chief plans on being here longer than three or four years,” said Zen, who’s watched 10 chiefs come and go. “I’m not sure I’m going to be here another four years.”

As of Wednesday, city spokeswoman Sam Rainguet said 54 applications had been received.

The application period closes Dec. 28. Rainguet said the city has spent about $5,235 on advertising for the position online and in print in two regional newspapers and four Web sites, among them the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

City Manager Laurie Kadrich in August pledged a national search to find Gardner’s successor.

Kadrich said she hasn’t seen the applications and won’t start her review until after the Dec. 28 closing date.

If the pool of applicants is deemed acceptable, Kadrich said candidates could be brought in for interviews in January, which will include meetings with city staff and various members of the community.

A hire is possible by early February, Kadrich said.


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