Police Chief Recruitment Update by PV Mayor Michael Collins

Dear Friends and Neighbors,
A nationwide search resulted in over eighty applicants for the Town of Paradise Valley’s Police Chief. It is now narrowed down to five candidates after twelve interviews were conducted on March 13 and 16. The Town Manager, Kevin Burke, will decide on the top candidate to replace Interim Public Safety Director Larry Ratcliff who was appointed in September 2014 after former Chief John Bennett retired after serving for seven years.
Three of the top five candidates — Larry Wingert, Nancy Gardner and Blake McClelland — are currently employed by Arizona agencies and two — Rodney Covey and Brian Kozak — have prior Arizona connections, and are currently employed by agencies out of state.
The five candidates are:
Rodney Covey
Covey is currently Deputy Chief for the Port of Seattle, Washington. He was with the Arizona Department of Public Safety for 32 years and worked his way up through the ranks to Assistant Director over three different bureaus: Patrol, Operations and Agency Support. Prior to moving to the Port of Seattle, Covey created and served as the Executive Director for the Center for Leadership Excellence for the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board (AZ POST). He also assisted with the creation of the Arizona Regional Community Policing Institute, serving as Chairman of the Board and later as Director. Covey has facilitated team building for over 50 governmental agencies in Arizona and the U.S.
Covey holds a master’s degree in educational leadership from Northern Arizona State University and a bachelor’s degree in management from University of Phoenix.
Nancy Gardner
Gardner has over 25 years of law enforcement experience and is currently the Police Chief (Town Marshal) of Camp Verde, Arizona. She previously served as a Division Commander and SWAT Commander in the Avondale, AZ Police Department and a Division Commander in the Gilbert, AZ Police Department. Among her many accomplishments, Gardner implemented a regional dispatching center to include Camp Verde, Clarkdale, Yavapai Apache Tribe, and Jerome to increase revenues and stimulate proficiency through strategically partnering with the other agencies. Since her time in Camp Verde, she has secured grant funding in excess of $300,000 for various programs and equipment for interoperability among law enforcement agencies.
Gardner earned a master’s degree in education in counseling and human resources from Northern Arizona State University and a bachelor’s degree in business management from the University of Phoenix.
Brian Kozak
Kozak is the Police Chief of the Cheyenne, Wyoming Police Department. Prior to Cheyenne, he served as Chief of Police for the Avon, Colorado Police Department for four years. He began his law enforcement career with the Mesa, Arizona Police Department in 1984 serving for 22 years. His final rank in Mesa was Lieutenant. While serving in Wyoming, the Cheyenne Police Department was recognized by the Wyoming Association of Municipalities three years in a row with the Community Hero Award for their community outreach efforts which include the Cheyenne Neighborhood Night Out, Graffiti Abatement and Youth Art Contest, Citizens on Patrol/Citizen Police Academy and many more.
Kozak has a master’s degree in secondary education and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Phoenix.
Blake McClelland
McClelland has been with the Phoenix Police Department throughout his career and has 33 years of law enforcement experience. He became a police supervisor in 1988 and has held command level positions at the Lieutenant, Commander and Assistant Chief ranks. Additionally he is a Faculty Associate at ASU and instructs classes for the Master of Public Administration program, the Master of Science program in Criminal Justice and the Ramsey Executive Education Department in the School of Public Affairs. Currently he is working with the U.S. Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office evaluating the Spokane, Washington Police Department on their community outreach, training and use of force policies.
McClelland holds a Ph.D., a master’s degree in public administration and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Arizona State University.
Larry Wingert
Wingert currently serves as Police Chief for Wickenburg, Arizona. Prior to Wickenburg, he was the Undersheriff for the Flathead County, Montana Sheriff’s Office. He has implemented numerous community oriented policing programs, which include “Wickenburg Five-0”, where officers interact with students in a proactive environment in neighborhood classrooms to build positive relationships and serve as role models to those students and Neighborhood speed patrol, where traffic resources are directed via citizen input for one week education, followed by one week enforcement. Locations rotate based on citizen input.
Wingert earned a bachelor’s of general studies from Northern Arizona State University.
All five have been invited for on-site interviews and oral presentations on April 16 and 17 with panels made up of volunteers, police department employees, the Town Manager and department heads.
Yours in service,
Michael Collins, Mayor
Town of Paradise Valley
6401 East Lincoln Drive
Paradise Valley, Arizona 85253