By Don Nelson
The Town of Winthrop’s search for a marshal and deputy marshal is going to take a little longer.
At last week’s town council meeting, Mayor Sue Langdalen said that background checks on two candidates who were finalists for the positions were unsatisfactory.
That means the town will continue to be without its own police force until the two vacancies are filled with acceptable candidates. A new search has begun, Langdalen said. Council member Jessica Sheehan, who is on the town’s Civil Service Commission, said the town has received one application and expects others shortly.
In the mean time, the town will continue to contract with local enforcement officers from other agencies to fill in on a part-time basis.
Winthrop has been without its own sworn officers since Acting Marshal Ken Bajema resigned in December 2015. Former Marshal Rikki Schwab resigned in July 2015. Two deputies had earlier left the department after short says, and former Marshal David Dahlstrom resigned in late 2013.
Schwab’s resignation had prompted a discussion about whether Winthrop should contract with Twisp for police services. Twisp Police Chief Paul Budrow came up with a contract proposal, but Winthrop declined the offer.
Both Winthrop and Twisp have experienced difficulties in finding qualified policies officers who are willing to relocate to a small rural town.
While serving as acting marshal, Bajema had recommended that the town reduce its force from three to two full-time officers. The town council adopted that recommendation in its budget.
Twisp, which has operated for several years with two full-time officers, went the other direction and found room in its budget for a third officer. But Budrow recently told the Twisp Town Council that the town received only one response to its advertisement for a lateral police officer, and that applicant took another position. He said the position would be advertised again, again seeking a lateral officer — which means a trained police officer with previous job experience.
If no qualified lateral officers apply, the town will seek entry-level candidates who would need to attend law enforcement academy before beginning work in Twisp, Budrow said. He said Twisp’s small size and comparatively low pay scale make it difficult to attract experienced and qualified candidates.
In other business, the Winthrop council:
• Agreed to change its regular meeting time back to 7 p.m. beginning with the April 6 meeting. The council had been meeting at 6 p.m. during the winter months.
• Learned that Lynette Westendorf has resigned from the Westernization Architectural Committee. A replacement will be sought.
• Heard a proposal from resident Frankie Waller that an American flag be displayed in Mack Lloyd Park. The flag could be displayed without being raised and lowered each day if it is permanently lighted.
• Renewed its call for applicants to replace Sheehan on the town council. She is moving out of the community soon.