PORTLAND — Two finalists – including the interim chief of police – have dropped out of the running to become the city’s next police chief.
Interim Police Chief Joseph Loughlin and Arlington, Mass., Police Chief Frederick Ryan both notified the city last week that they were withdrawing their applications. The men made it to the final round of interviews and both said they were told they were among three finalists for the position.
The third finalist is reportedly from Los Angeles, although city spokeswoman Nicole Clegg would not confirm that information.
Clegg said on Monday that she could not identify the finalists. She said the pool had been reduced to five, not three, and that two had dropped out. The position attracted more than 80 applicants.
Loughlin said the recent deaths of Sgt. Rick Betters and Police Department Finance Director Mary McLaran, along with the the death of Sgt. Robert Johnsey last May, convinced him to reconsider his decision to apply for the position.
“I couldn’t commit to the time,” Loughlin said. “This was an extremely difficult decision for me.”
Loughlin, who was a deputy chief before taking over last August when former Chief Tim Burton left for a job in Texas, said he will go back to his old position when a new chief is hired and stay with the department until the new leader is settled in.
“When I’m comfortable with it, I’ll step off,” Loughlin said, adding that his primary goal is to leave the department in good hands.
“This job is more than challenging,” he said. “There are no days off. It is a crisis environment all the time.”
Loughlin, a 27-year veteran of the department, said he wants to give seminars about police stress, teach leadership classes and maybe even write another book after retirement. His first foray into publishing came in 2006, when he co-authored “Finding Amy” with Kate Clark Flora. The book is about the investigation into the disappearance and murder of Amy St. Laurent in 2001.
Ryan confirmed this week that he withdrew his application and provided a written statement about his decision. He has been chief of police for 10 years in Arlington, which is five miles from Boston. The Arlington department has 120 personnel, including unsworn employees.
“I was honored and humbled to have been included on the short list of Portland’s national recruitment for chief of police,” Ryan said in his statement. “Portland is a vibrant and progressive city with much to offer, however, for a variety of reasons, I withdrew from the selection process after having been selected as one of three finalists.”
Clegg said City Manager Joe Gray is conducting final interviews and background checks and expects to have a recommendation for the City Council by the beginning of March.