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Ceres recruiting for permanent police chief
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The city of Ceres has opened up the application process for a permanent police chief to the public as well as within the department.

Ceres Police Lt. Brent Smith has been serving as acting police chief since the departure of Art deWerk in June. City Manager Toby Wells decided against automatically appointing Smith in the permanent role and considering other candidates.

The application process closes on Dec. 15 with the top candidates interviewed mid January.

The position pays $9,119 to $11,085 per month with benefits.

Smith, who has been with Ceres Police Department since 1993, plans to apply for the position. He said he doesn't expect anyone else within the department to apply.

"I am looking forward to going through the testing process," said Smith. "I've known this was going to happen for a little while."

"I've done a good job here and look forward to the future of this department. There is a lot that needs to be accomplished. We've been without a chief for some time and an acting police chief can only do so much. I'm ready to move forward no matter what the decision is."

Wells said he will be making the decision who to hire. He said the recruitment process occurs at a time when the city is scrapping the Public Safety Department in favor of traditional separate police and fire departments. Ceres adopted the Public Safety Department model in 1988, placing police and fire operations under the control of a single director who doubled as the police chief. In making the switch back effective Dec. 10, the council axed the director of Public Safety position to return to traditional police chief and fire chief positions.

"I couldn't do anything until I had a police chief position," said Wells. "I had to do that process of changing the process first."

Earlier this year the City Council took heat from Frank Johnson, a supporter of deWerk's and president of the county chapter of the National Association for the Advanced for Colored People (NAACP). Johnson accused the city of not opening up the process to replace deWerk and railed against the "lack of qualifications" for the man appointed to fill the former chief's shoes.

Wells said the public recruitment for the chief's position had nothing to do with Johnson's criticism.

"I truly wrestled with this for quite some time and bounced this off a number of people and got some good insights and observations from other chiefs and city managers. It really came down to this simple statement, that ultimately we owe it to the citizens that we serve as well as the employees of this city to make sure that we get the best person for the job. The best person might already work here. There's talented professionals (here) that have the ability to be the chief, however I do feel the competitive process will make that clear."

According to the recruitment ad on the city's website and on, candidates must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university with major course work in political science, criminal justice, police science, fire science, behavioral science, business or public administration, or a related field. Ten years' of law enforcement experience, including three years of management and supervisory responsibility at the rank of lieutenant or higher, is also required. Anyone applying should possess an advanced and management certificate from a Police Officer Standards and Training course.

The position summary description is as follows: Under general administrative direction, plans, directs, and manages the activities, staffing, resources and operations of the city's Police Department; provides and oversees full-service law enforcement, field operations, criminal investigations, crime prevention, dispatch services, disaster preparedness and response, community problem-solving, general community support services, and related support services; coordinates assigned activities with other departments and outside agencies; acts as a member of the city manager's management team; and provides highly-responsible and complex administrative support to the city manager.

DeWerk's 15 years with the city ended June 16 behind closed doors of the City Council. DeWerk, who had been police chief and acting city manager at the outset of this year, had been on two months of medical leave for removal of a brain tumor but returned to work the week of June 9. A closed session was held on June 10 concerning deWerk. No action was taken but during a closed session on June 16 deWerk was gone. City Manager Toby Wells insisted that deWerk was not fired.

DeWerk had been with the city since 1999. He previously served as police chief of Casper, Wyo., for eight years. He also served with the Palo Alto Police Department for 18 years.