Ex-GJ police chief Gardner in running for Montana job

Eight months removed from his surprise resignation from the Grand Junction Police Department, former police chief Bill Gardner is in the running for the same job in Montana.

Karen Semerau, executive assistant to the city manager’s office in Bozeman, Mont., told The Daily Sentinel on Wednesday that Gardner is among three finalists to be the city’s next permanent police chief.

Gardner was expected to arrive Wednesday in Bozeman to participate in a public forum that night answering questions from local residents, Semerau said.

Gardner and the other finalists are expected to be interviewed by community members and city leaders in a process expected to run most of today, she said.

“We’d like to have someone on board within a couple of weeks,” Semerau said.

Semerau said she didn’t know how many applications Bozeman received for the job or whether background checks were completed on any of the finalists.

A description of the job produced by the city of Bozeman said the police department includes 69 full-time employees who serve approximately 42,000 residents in a city that includes Montana State University. A proposed salary range isn’t specified.

The Grand Junction Police Department is staffed with 192 sworn or civilian employees.

Attempts to reach Gardner for comment Wednesday were unsuccessful.

A 32-year law enforcement veteran, Gardner, 60, surprised many of his colleagues in the Grand Valley in announcing his resignation last July after leading the agency four years. He also left open the possibility of returning to law enforcement.

“I didn’t expect this to happen so soon, but after my own individual reflection, I soon began to realize it was time to move on,” Gardner said last July.

City Manager Laurie Kadrich in a news release said Gardner’s departure was his own decision. “Although it pains me greatly to see him go, and I know it will be difficult to replace him, personal choice is what is most important here,” Kadrich said.

Gardner played a role in the hiring of interim Police Chief John Camper from Lakewood, who was brought on for the permanent job in February.

Although Gardner’s last day was Sept. 4, city officials agreed to continue his health care benefits and pay his annual salary of $123,739 through the end of December.


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