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Community questions finalists for Tacoma police chief

The candidates answered a wide range of questions from community members. The city plans to name its new chief next month.

TACOMA, Wash. — The City of Tacoma is getting ready to name its next police chief, but first, community members had an opportunity to question the four finalists.

One person asked how the finalists would recruit a diverse workforce.

“We need to widen our scope of what that ideal candidate is, we need to define what our ideal candidate is, and then we need to use outside resources, outside of the police department because, clearly, we're not making a dent using our own hiring methods and practices,” said finalist Sean Case, who currently serves as a captain in the Anchorage Police Department.

“We also have to look here in Tacoma. You have some wonderful people here that would be law enforcement officers for this great agency, but they just have to be given an opportunity,” said finalist Michael Carroll, who retired from the Alameda County Sheriff's Office in San Leandro, California.

“The police department should be a microcosm of the communities that they serve, representation is important,” said finalist Avery Moore, who currently serves in the Dallas Police Department as the assistant chief of police for the Investigations Bureau.

“Traditionally, at the end of a year, there's a lot of retirements, and so we're going to see that number much higher before we start to actually build upon it. So managing the expectations, knowing that we have a lot to fill,” said finalist Kathy McAlpine, who now serves as police chief for the Tigard Police Department.

McAlpine started her career in the Tacoma Police Department as a patrol officer and said police alternatives like community service officers could handle some calls while the department fills open positions.

A community member asked how the finalists feel about legislation limiting police tactics like tear gas, chokeholds, and high-speed pursuits.

“We have evolved and there are other means that we can use other than chokeholds, tear gas, and things of that nature, and I'm a person that believes that we can exercise other options,” Carroll said.

“We only pursue violent offenders, period. Has it limited us? No, we still make arrests of the people that need to be arrested, we still pursue the people that need to be pursued,” Moore said.

“As far as the gas, it is only in those riot disorderly responses, it is a tool, and as we've seen across the country, the policies are very strict on even when to apply that because it can be harmful in certain situations,” McAlpine said.

“We really want to preserve using the pursuit to go after those violent offenders that themselves pose a higher risk than that pursuit,” Case said.

The next step is for the city to do background checks and reference checks on the four candidates.

Tacoma plans to name the next chief in December.