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Caldwell City Council to make call on next police chief

A City of Caldwell news release Tuesday stated that it is expected the council will present Rex Ingram for the position at its June 20 meeting.

CALDWELL, Idaho — This article originally appeared in the Idaho Press.

It appears the Caldwell City Council holds the cards in regards to naming a new city police chief.

The council voted down mayor Jarom Wagoner’s selection in a 4-2 vote last Wednesday evening; Wagoner has 10 business days from that point to put forth a candidate once again. If Wagoner does not have one at that time, it will be up to the city council to appoint a candidate, the city stated in a news release. That candidate will be the next police chief in Caldwell.

The news release stated that it is expected the council will present Rex Ingram for the position at its June 20 meeting. Ingram, who has a residence in Eagle, is currently a lieutenant with the Los Angeles Police Department.

The process continues to evolve after last Wednesday’s surprise vote, during a special meeting that appeared to be a formality in naming Jason Kuzik the lead officer of the department.

Kuzik and his wife, Sandy, made the nearly 650-mile trip to Caldwell from Henderson, Nevada, where he has served that city’s police force for nearly 25 years. At the outset of the meeting he addressed Caldwell police officers in attendance as well as the city council.

But after Wagoner asked for the council’s support, dissenting votes came from Chuck Stadick, Diana Register, Geoff Williams and John McGee. Chris Allgood and Brad Doty voted in favor of Kuzik’s appointment.

During the meeting, Stadick and Register expressed reservations regarding the selection process.

Register read a lengthy statement, saying that while she recognized the urgency to fill the chief’s seat, she felt strongly that “there were things that needed to be done to ensure the integrity of the process.”

And while she said she believes that Kuzik is a “well-rounded applicant,” she did not want “to put somebody in the position just to get somebody in there.”

An email to Register regarding her comments was not returned.

Stadick pointed out that the Caldwell Police Department remains under FBI investigation, and questioned the timing of the selection and Kuzik’s experience under those circumstances.

The investigation stems from alleged sexual relations and misconduct in the department's street crimes unit. Another officer, Joseph Hoadley, was fired in early May as he faced federal felony charges of destruction, alteration, or falsification of records in a federal investigation. Hoadley, who had been a lieutenant in the department, pleaded not guilty to the charges, and his jury trial is scheduled to happen in September. 

The department’s former chief, Frank Wyant, retired effective May 31.

Stadick also said he was concerned about Kuzik possibly being close to retirement. Wagoner countered by saying that having a chief for longer than a five- to seven-year period can lead to burnout in the position.

A news release sent out last week from the city of Caldwell said that an interview committee provided Wagoner with its top-three candidates for the police chief position. Wagoner then selected Kuzik.

Stadick said during last Wednesday’s meeting that he preferred a finalist from the Los Angeles Police Department who he believed performed well during the interview process.

“Relative to the grading system, it was my understanding that Mr. Ingram was the one at the top of the list. I may be wrong, but that’s what I understood,” Stadick said.

In an email to the Idaho Press, Stadick wrote that Ingram has had extensive experience in the kind of problems the Caldwell Police Department has experienced and oversees a large breadth of officers in his current job.

Stadick added that he believes Ingram lives in Eagle with his family and commutes to and from Los Angeles every month to fulfill his duties at the LAPD.

“Reason he moved here is he and his wife had family concerns about raising their children in the L.A. area,” Stadick wrote.

Stadick said that several Caldwell City Council members signed a letter addressed to Wagoner to bring Ingram's name back up for reconsideration for police chief.

This article originally appeared in the Idaho Press, read more on IdahoPress.com.

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