ARMA —The Arma City Council members were impressed with a strong pool of nine candidates who applied for the position of police chief, and hired Jeremy Allen, to fill the roll.
"It was a difficult decision," said Mayor Buddy Bualle. "All three of our finalists were strong candidates."
Bualle said the council members each reviewed and ranked each of the nine candidates, then interviewed the three with the best collective rankings during a meeting that primarily consisted of 2.5 hours of executive sessions on Wednesday.
Those executive sessions were followed by action to hire Jeremy Allen as the police chief.
In the course of the discussion, the council also took a look at the role of the police chief in a small community.
Bualle said the typical administrative duties, including scheduling, record keeping and compliance with county and state agencies will be part of the roll, but the council also felt it was important for the chief to be out and about.
"We see our police chief as needing to be in the community," Bualle said of the council's decision for the position to be split between administrative duties and those of a uniformed officer on duty.
He added that this is important for a number of reasons.
"People need to be comfortable with him," Bualle said. "Being a small town, we have to be available."
Bualle said the community offers 24-hour police protection, and saves by having the chief take some of those shifts, but not at the expense of the administrative work.
"The council is very adamant to not shirk either side of that," Bualle said.
He said he has confidence that Allen will be able to balance the roles, and that he also will bring a good combination of personality traits to the position.
"Jeremy's strongest suit is he comes across as being very professional, but yet understanding and compassionate," Bualle said, adding that Allen listens well before responding.
He said Allen also has significant experience with law enforcement work through Crawford County, Cherokee County and the City of Pittsburg.
Bualle said an additional bonus, although not part of the criteria, is that Allen grew up in Arma and has a solid understanding of a small town, including the benefits and challenges that come with it.
"He knows the community," Bualle said. "He can relate to grown-ups as well as young people."
Allen will be formally sworn in at the council's Oct. 7 meeting and will begin duties as police chief Oct. 8, and Bualle said Allen also plans to stay on with the Crawford County Sheriff's Department on a part-time basis.
"We felt that would be a positive thing for both departments," Bualle said.