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Search is on for new chief of police in Oceanside

OCEANSIDE — City Manager Steve Jepsen began the search for a new police chief Dec. 16.

Frank McCoy, current police chief, gave notice that he is retiring in late October. Since then Jepsen began his position as city manager on Nov. 18, and met with human resources staff on Dec. 2 to prepare for the hiring process.

Jespen selected Bob Murray and Associates executive recruitment services to conduct a nationwide search for the best candidate.

On Dec. 16 Jepsen and McCoy will meet with Bob Murray and Associates headhunters to define job qualifications and initiate advertisement for the position.

Jepsen served as Oceanside city manager from 2000 to 2006, and hired McCoy in 2006. Then he served as city manager for Yuba City from 2006 to 2013.

Now he is back serving Oceanside and once again hiring the city police chief.

Pat Nunez, city human resources director, said the process to hire the police chief usually includes the city manager meeting with City Council for input and at some point providing an opportunity for community input.

Exactly what opportunities will be provided for City Council and the public to express their comments and concerns is up to the discretion of the city manager.

“It starts (Dec. 16),” Nunez said. “It couldn’t move forward until he (Jepsen) was on the ground.”

The position will be open to interested applicants for about six weeks. Then the recruitment service will narrow down the applicant pool, and Jepsen will conduct the final interviews.

He will also make the hiring decision.

“The goal is to get the most qualified candidate,” Nunez said.

Mayor Jim Wood, an Oceanside police officer and detective for more than 30 years, said city council members, by policy, have little say in who is hired as police chief.

Wood added that the position is critically important.

Minimum qualifications for the position have not been formally set, but will include the requirement that applicants have served at a responsible level in the police department, such as captain or chief.

Wood said it is also critical that the chief be able to work with the public and police rank and file, and have the ability to command staff.

“To be a good chief of police he or she needs to care about the community and have the ability to move forward,” Wood said.

Oceanside has three police captains with the leadership qualification and maybe an interest in the job. They are Tom Aguigui, captain of investigations; Fred Armijo, captain of field operations; and Ray Bechler, captain of the administration division.

Armijo said he would not apply for the position.

“It’s not something I have an interest in at this time,” Armijo said.

Armijo said Aguigui and Bechler do intend to apply for police chief.

Bechler confirmed he would apply. He added he has fallen in love with Oceanside since transferring to serve the Oceanside Police Department two years ago.

“I have a genuine concern for the community,” Bechler said. “I love the agency. The people are top notch.”

His vision for the police department is to get staff more engaged and involved in the community and hone down on issues related to serious crimes.

Aguigui could not be reached for comment.

McCoy has not named an interim chief. Wood said it is likely McCoy did not name one so as to not give one captain an advantage over the others who might want to apply for the position.

“The chief didn’t want to recommend anyone from the inside,” Wood said. “To be fair we’ll do the search and let the best person win.”

McCoy began his service as a police officer in 1984 and within that time served eight years on the Cypress City Council as mayor, mayor pro tem, and council member.

He has faced some personal challenges in recent years. His wife Brinda McCoy was convicted of five counts of assault on a police officer and discharging a firearm with gross negligence during a police standoff at the McCoy home in Orange County in December 2010. She was sentenced to 29 years in prison in September 2012.

Some speculate that Frank McCoy may return to police work after he retires.

McCoy will serve as Oceanside police chief until a replacement is found.