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Caldwell City Council votes against mayor's police chief recommendation

The Caldwell City Council voted 4-2 against Mayor Jarom Wagoner's motion to appoint Jason Kuzik as the new police chief.

CALDWELL, Idaho — The Caldwell City Council voted 4-2 against Mayor Jarom Wagoner's motion to appoint Jason Kuzik as the new police chief at a special meeting Wednesday.

On May 20, Wagoner announced Kuzik as his recommendation to succeed Frank Wyant, who is retiring effective May 31.

A committee that recently interviewed candidates for the chief position submitted three choices to Wagoner, who decided to recommend Kuzik to the Caldwell City Council.

The mayor hoped today would mark the start of a new chapter in the department but some council members did not feel it was right.

During Wednesday's meeting, Wagoner said he traveled to Henderson, Nevada - where Kuzik currently serves as a captain with the police department - to learn more about the candidate. Wagoner said Kuzik would lead the Caldwell Police Department (CPD) "with dignity and honor."

Dozens of Caldwell police officers and staff sat in the department's community room waiting to hear whether Kuzik would lead the department.

“This is an amazing opportunity I'm looking forward and hopefully with your blessing, I'll have the honor of being the next chief of police,” Kuzik said.

The process of selecting a new chief played out for two months in front of an interview panel made up of former and current emergency responders and city leaders.

As the FBI investigates current and former Caldwell police officers, Wagoner says he wants a leader from outside CPD, someone with a fresh perspective to help the department "heal" and move forward.

“There’s issues we need to resolve. Systemic problems, I don’t know if I’d go that far but there are changes that need to come into place,” Wagoner said. “I feel the captain would have fit that perfectly.”

“We have a situation going on obviously but we're gonna get through it alright,” Kuzik said. “The public needs to know that the Caldwell police department has never not been there for them through all these trials and tribulations it is still an excellent department.”

Two councilmen agreed that Kuzik was the right fit. However, Captain Kuzik did not check all the boxes for four council members, who struck down the mayor’s recommendation to appoint Kuzik as the next CPD chief.

“The police department is in desperate need of leadership,” said Councilwoman Dian Register. “But they are also in desperate need of healing and I believe that that is going to take somebody who has not just admin and managerial experience, but somebody who checks all the boxes for needs of the department and community as a whole.”

Councilman Chuck Stadick brought up concerns about how the FBI investigation will play out and who else will be found guilty, along with Kuzik potentially retiring within the next four to five years.

“Until an investigation is through, how can you come up with good decisions?” Stadick said. “To me, we have a systemic problem here, and I understood that from our lengthy conversations that you haven't had that kind of experience and that concerned me.”

Because Kuzik did not get the job, Caldwell still does not have a chief, and officers, working long hours for the community, do not have a path forward.

“They're hurting right now, and this did not help tonight,” said Wagoner.

Wagoner said he and superiors in the police department will re-group Thursday to figure out the next steps.

“We can't go through another 2-month process we have to get a leader in,” Wagoner said. “There's not a magic curtain we can pull back and here’s next chief gonna walk in, it doesn't work that way.”

The Caldwell City Council votes are listed below: 

  • Allgood: Yes 
  • Doty: Yes 
  • John McGee: No 
  • Geoff Williams: No 
  • Register: No 
  • Stadick: No

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