After a lengthy search, University Place has a new police chief.
The city announced Friday that Sgt. Mike Blair had been selected as the city’s top police officer. Blair has been filling in as interim chief since the departure of former chief Rusty Wilder in January.
Blair’s first day as chief is Monday. He was named law enforcement officer of the year at the sheriff’s office in 2010.
“I am looking forward to the continued partnership with the city and sheriff’s department over the next decade to continue to provide high-level professionalism and quality response to crime in the city of University Place,” Blair said in the statement announcing his hiring.
The city contracts with the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department
Office for police services, and its chief is selected from internal candidates. Sheriff Paul Pastor made the selection Friday in consultation with University Place City Manager Steve Sugg. This year, the city will pay the sheriff’s office more than $3.2 million under the contract.
The city had sought a larger pool of candidates and bigger role in selecting its police chief this time around. Pastor agreed to expand the pool to includes sergeants; previously, it was limited to officers with ranks of lieutenant and above.
A panel of city employees and sheriff’s department representatives reviewed the applications of the nine applications and whittled down the number to five.
Last week, another panel of city employees and sheriff’s department representatives interviewed the five remaining panelists and recommended three finalists. The city held a community meet-and-greet with the finalists on Aug. 23. The two other finalists were Lt. Jerry Lawrence and Bill Cassio, who manages contracts for the sheriff’s department.
Blair will earn $164,000 a year in base salary.
Police chiefs in University Place typically serve a term of two years
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