Woodland council rejects mayor’s pick for police chief

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Woodland is preparing to restart its search for a new police chief after the City Council rejected the mayor’s top pick for the job.

The city began a nationwide search about seven months ago when former chief Rob Stephenson retired after more than 30 years on the job. From a field of 21 candidates, Mayor Grover Laseke recommended the councilors appoint Vern Thompson, chief of the Eagle Point Police Department just north of Medford, Ore.

But the councilors quickly rejected Laseke’s suggestion without discussion or a vote at their Monday meeting. After the meeting, some of the councilors shared concerns about two alleged ethics violations on Thompson’s record from his time at the Kelso Police Department, where he worked for 28 years, The Daily News reported.

Laseke said he was aware of the ethics violations, which came up in Thompson’s background check. Even so, the issue stemmed from an isolated incident that wouldn’t have had any bearing on Thompson’s job in Woodland, Laseke said.

Though he wasn’t surprised about the council’s rejection, Laseke said, he was disappointed in the lack of discussion.

“There was no opportunity to debate the issue,” he said. “They just shut it down without doing anything.”

Laseke said he anticipates putting another candidate before the council for a new vote in the fall.