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Police chief field cut to two

City Manager Mike Letcher is expected to announce his pick for Tucson police chief Friday afternoon after a whirlwind three days of candidate interviews by community members, the police staff, the city staff and the City Council.

Friday, the field was cut to two – both assistant chiefs. Assistant Chief John Leavitt and Assistant Chief Roberto Villaseñor were to meet informally with mayor, council and city staffers Friday morning.

Capt. Brett Klein was cut from consideration.

The choice of the final two was made based on scores from the panel interviews Thursday.

Community and neighborhood leaders questioned the three finalists Thursday for four hours, asking them how to combat Tucson’s most serious crime problems and their attitudes toward working with community members on crime problems.

The panel meeting, from 8 a.m. to noon, was followed by other meetings with police rank-and-file employees, commanders and union representatives. The afternoon sessions Thursday were not open to the public, said Cindy Bezaury, head of the city’s Human Resources Department.

The public “meet-and-greet” session with City Council members was scheduled for 8 to 9:30 a.m.Friday at the Tucson Convention Center, Bezaury said.

Letcher will then nominate a new chief Friday afternoon and the City Council will either endorse or reject his nominee at its meeting Tuesday night. Under the city charter, the city manager selects the police chief.

Thursday, the three finalists talked of the value of community-based policing, forming close relationships with community members who can take steps to help curb crime in their neighborhoods and who can keep police informed about neighborhood crime problems.

They also talked of their opposition to police profiling based on race, gender or sexual preference.

Leavitt recalled how the department began addressing profiling issues in 1998.

“We are leaders in the nation on this issue,” Leavitt said.

Villaseñor said it was important for the chief to form relationships with business and community groups to learn what crime problems they face and what they want from the Police Department to help solve those problems.

“The Police Department must be responsive to the needs of the community,” Leavitt said.

Said Klein, “The community is important. . . . You are not so much the chief of police as you are a member of the community.”

Asked about Tucson’s crime problem, all three candidates agreed drug dealing, drug use and drug-related crimes are the city’s most serious concerns.

“Drugs are a bane to our community,” Klein said.

“The drug problem is the biggest problem we have,” said Leavitt.

Nearly every serious crime in the city is in some way related to the drug problem, Villaseñor said, adding, “it is interwoven with our life.”

All three candidates spoke of the need to take enforcement action against drugs, but they also said treatment and prevention programs aimed at the problem are just as important.

Asked for his position on working with federal agencies to enforce immigration law, Klein said such enforcement “is a federal responsibility.”

He said that much of the Tucson community does not see violation of immigration law as a local crime issue.

Klein said there is a need to work with federal agents on other law enforcement issues, such as a growing border violence problem.

The other two candidates were not asked their view on border crime enforcement.

The questions they were asked were submitted in writing and asked by Independent Police Auditor Liana Perez and city Human Resources Manager Tameron Collins.

After the discussion, David Robles, with the 29th Street Weed and Seed Coalition on the city’s Southeast Side, said, “I think it was very informative, I think all three are very good, viable candidates.”

Glen Perin, a retired Arizona prison warden now working as a criminal justice instructor at Pima Community College, said all three were acceptable.

“They are all very close in my estimation and I really do believe any one of them would do a good job,” Perin said.

The city has a requirement that department heads live within the city limits.

None of the candidates for police chief lives in the city, but each man said he would move if chosen for the job.







Brett Klein

Age: 50

Hired by TPD: 1987

Education: Will graduate from Northern Arizona University next month with a bachelor’s degree in applied sciences.

TPD history: Currently West division commander; other command experience includes logistics division, advanced training section, family and sex crimes section and traffic enforcement. He also was former chief Richard Miranda’s chief of staff from 2005-07. He was a police officer in Iowa from 1980-1987.


Asst. Chief

John Leavitt

Age: 48

Hired by TPD: 1982

Education: Master’s of education, NAU

TPD history: Command experience includes administrative services bureau commander, field services bureau, investigative services bureau, midtown division, field support division, central investigations division and SWAT. Former chief Douglas Smith’s chief of staff 1997.


Asst. Chief

Roberto Villaseñor

Age: 50

Hired by TPD: 1980

Education: Master’s of education, NAU

TPD history: Command experience includes investigative services bureau, administrative services bureau, field services bureau, support services bureau, West division, management information division, field support division, MANTIS, Midtown operations division, Office of Professional Standards, hostage negotiations unit.

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