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Oceanside Police Chief asked to return for two more years

OCEANSIDE — The search for a new Oceanside police chief has been called off, and former Police Chief Frank McCoy is being asked to return and serve two more years.

City Manager Steve Jepsen, who holds authority to appoint the city police chief, had qualified candidates whittled down to a short list.

He said he asked McCoy what his plans were upon retirement, and hearing none, decided to ask McCoy to return to his former position.

“It eliminated the need to go any further with the list,” Jepsen said.

McCoy announced his retirement in October, and has been serving as interim police chief during the search. The request for McCoy to return as chief comes near the end of the maximum 960 hours he can serve as a temporary city employee while collecting pension.

If City Council approves McCoy’s reappointment May 7, he will be hired back at a 6.5 percent salary increase this year, and additional 6.5 increase next year.

Jepsen said the salary increase will amount to little more in total pay then McCoy is presently collecting from retirement and work as a temporary city employee.

Jepsen said the advantages in rehiring McCoy are that he knows the community and staffing issues and there is no transition time for him to get up to speed.

“I am happy with internal operations,” Jepsen said. “I think things are going well and the department is doing a great job.”

Two additional years of service will also allow McCoy to continue successor training. At the end of two years the three qualified in-house captains will be strong candidates for chief.

Ray Bechler, captain of the administration division; Tom Aguigui, captain of investigations; and Fred Armijo, captain of field operations, currently qualify to become police chief.

Bechler and Aguigui expressed an interest in the position when the search was announced. They were being considered for the position up until the search was called off.

While there are no certainties as to what will happen in two years, Jepsen said he would like to hire an in-house candidate at that time.

“I’m hopeful in two years we’ll have three strong in-house candidates, and not have to go outside (to hire a chief),” Jepsen said.

The news that McCoy will continue as police chief was shared by a public speaker at the City Council meting April 30. Jepsen was absent from the meeting, and city officials present did not wish to comment at that time.

The decision is still unofficial until City Council’s approval May 7.