If all goes as planned, the Cloverdale Police Department will have a new chief of police as of July 24.
Jason Ferguson has been offered the position of chief; Ferguson formerly served as a lieutenant for the Lakeport Police Department.
According to Cloverdale City Manager David Kelley, the city is bringing an at-will employment agreement to the Cloverdale City Council meeting on July 24. If approved, Ferguson can start as soon as he wants to, Kelley said.
Some of the key traits that the city looked for in a potential chief included a penchant for community engagement, strong interpersonal and leadership skills and a willingness to seek out new resources.
“We felt that it was important that the police chief be really engaged with the community and that they have that experience in getting out into the community,” Kelley said, adding that he wants community groups to know the new police chief and wants the new chief to work in partnership with community members to address issues.
“I think he just exhibited that confidence and those people and interpersonal skills that I think will be critical in his success at the police department,” Kelley said.
Though Lakeport has a jurisdiction roughly half the size of Cloverdale, Kelley said that the town has faced similar struggles as ones that Ferguson will deal with as chief — issues that range in topic from dealing with the homeless population to trying to relocate the department to a new building.
During the interview process, Kelley said that Ferguson emphasized his desire to remain out in the field with officers, rather than sit behind a desk.
Looking to public safety efforts specifically, Kelley emphasized wanting the public to be confident about the person heading up the department.
“Public safety is obviously the key purpose of the police department,” he said. “We want the community to have a real sense of confidence in who their police chief is, that he is going to be there to guide the department in their public safety efforts.”
Relatedly, the Cloverdale Police Department’s flyer for National Night Out on Aug. 6 lists a meet and greet with the chief of police as part of the event’s activities.
As part of the hiring process, Kelley said that Ferguson had to sit before two panels — a professional panel comprised of Kelley, Interim Chief Robert Stewart, Healdsburg Police Chief Kevin Burke and CPD Sergeant Chris Parker; and a community panel which consisted of Mayor Melanie Bagby, Vice Mayor Gus Wolter, Planning Commissioner Bob Cox and Cloverdale Healthcare District Director Thomas Hinrichs.
Prior to being interviewed, Ferguson attended the city’s budget workshop on May 14.
“For someone to take time out of their work to sit in an all day budget session … that says a lot,” Kelley said.
The hiring was first announced on Facebook by the Lakeport Police Department.
“Jason served our community with honor and distinction over the past 21 years in various assignments including police officer, narcotic investigator, school resource officer, sergeant and lieutenant,” reads the Lakeport Police Department’s Facebook post.
“One of the things that was clear from my perspective, looking at it from the professional panel interview, was that his experience in working his way up through the ranks in the city of Lakeport suits him well,” Kelley said.
Since August of last year, Robert Stewart has served as the interim chief of police for Cloverdale. Stewart served as chief of police for the Cotati Police Department from 1996 until his retirement in 2010.
Stewart began his position as interim chief after Chief Stephen Cramer went on medical leave. Cramer retired from the department in December and died of cancer in January.
“It’s going to be really great to get the new chief on board so he can really take the helm and really establish himself as a key member of our community,” Kelley said. “It’s exciting to see a new person come into that role.”