The Gazette covers City Hall, now a flood-damaged icon on May's Island in the Cedar River

Two locals, Capts. O’Konek and Walther, are in the hunt for police chief job

In City Hall, Police Department, Tom Podzimek on April 1, 2008 at 3:04 pm

The Civil Service Commission today released the names of seven candidates for the job of Cedar Rapids police chief.

Two of the seven are current members of the department, Capts. Steve O’Konek, 46, and Bernard Walther, 47. O’Konek joined the department in 1985, Walther in 1981. Both head up patrol divisions at the department.

The other candidates are: Randy Bratton, 44, police chief in Paducah, Ky.; Joseph D’Agostino, a police captain in Port St. Lucie, Fla.; Kenneth Graham, 46, a deputy chief in Ocala, Fla.; Jeff Hadley, a police captain in Ft. Wayne, Ind.; and Gary Maas, 57, Littleton, Colo.

Maas was police chief in Sioux City, Iowa, from February 1991 to November 1996, and in Littleton from November 1996 to December 2006. He now is director of intergovernment relations and legislative liaison with the Colorado Department of Corrections. Ages of D’Agostino and Hadley were not available.

The candidates will interview in Cedar Rapids April 5, 8 or 9.

The city’s Civil Service Commission then will rank those qualified to be chief and hand that list to City Manager Jim Prosser.

Prosser on Tuesday said a second round of interviews will follow with a group of finalists. He expected to hire a chief, an appointment the City Council must approve, in early May and to have him on the job in early June.

The Police Executive Research Forum of Washington, D.C., helped the city search for candidates. The forum provided Prosser and Jim Piersall, a member of the city’s Civil Service Commission, with a list of 10 candidates. Prosser and Piersall trimmed that to seven, Prosser said.

Two months ago, two consultants for the research forum told the City Council at a public meeting that the odds were that the new chief would come from outside the department.

Drew Diamond, director of training and technical assistance for the police forum, told the council then that current employees  “aren’t discouraged” from applying and will be given “a fair hearing.”

However, Rick Overman of the research forum answered, “Not very often,” when council member Tom Podzimek asked whether the consultant’s search effort ever places an in-house candidate.

Overman is a former deputy police chief in Orlando, Fla., and former police chief in Del Ray Beach, Fla.

The research forum of Washington, D.C., was hired in December at a cost of $50,500, an amount higher than proposals from nine other search firms.

The search is underway for a new chief because Mike Klappholz retired at age 55 on March 7 to devote himself to the role of deacon at his church, All Saints Catholic Church.

Capt. Richard Stephens is acting chief.

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  1. There is no one within the Dept at this time that could resolve the issues at the Dept. The Dept needs an outsider.

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