The three law enforcement officials vying to become Loveland’s new police chief met and spoke with city officials and local residents at a Thursday night meeting in North Loveland, an event which should be the last step in the selection process before a candidate is chosen.
The meet and greet, hosted by the city, yielded the Loveland Police Department’s top three nominees – Timothy Doran, deputy chief of the Fort Collins Police Department; David Farrow, Deputy Chief of the Goodyear Police Department’s Bureau of Field Operations in Arizona; and Anita Koester, Division Chief and Supervisor of the Lakewood Police Department Patrol Division – an opportunity to speak to the community of Loveland about what they would do if chosen to lead the department.
City Manager Steve Adams said that in the city’s search for a new leader, they started with 44 candidates for the position, which were narrowed down to 16 candidates and eventually four; Philip Gonshak, one of the candidates, withdrew his candidacy on Wednesday after accepting another role, leaving three under consideration.
Each contestant was asked a series of questions by Bob Carden, a senior consultant for Prothman – the consulting firm that led the search for the leader – during the first hour of the event. Each contestant had the chance to speak about themselves and their experience to the crowd of approximately 100 people, as well as answer two questions that varied between them.
Doran, who went first, said his journey in the policing world was a little different from others, starting his career working for the United States Military Police Corps. He then spent 22 years working for the Federal Bureau of Investigation before returning to Colorado and ultimately serving as Deputy Chief of the Fort Collins Police Department.
“The transition from federal policing to the FBI to city policing…it’s been a transition for me, I’ll admit that,” he said. “But it was wonderful. Living here in Larimer County, I know what the Loveland Police Department faces every day because my officers face the same thing.
Responding to a question about improving transparency with the community, Doran said he had a lot of experience working for a department that prioritizes transparency, saying FCPS Chief Jeff Swoboda told him learned, and the department, what solid police transparency looked like.
“I don’t think any of us should be afraid of the truth,” he said, later adding, “We all make mistakes, but we all have to learn and know how to apologize when we make mistakes. this mistake.”
Koester said that as a member of the Lakewood Police Department she had a number of great opportunities, including being the first and only woman to ride a motorcycle on the traffic squad.
She said that as a person and an officer, she believes in integrity, character and fostering strong relationships with community partners.
“I want Loveland to be the model agency for modern policing built on trust and transparency, and I want it to be the agency known for doing it right,” she said.
Koester, responding to a question about the importance of internal and external communication, said she had extensive experience in maintaining strong lines of communication within departments and with the community.
She said she wanted to make sure the department communicates with its officers and the community in a timely but intentional manner.
“If we’re going to build trust and if I’m going to lead a team, it has to be through trust…and honest communication,” she said.
Farrow said he started his career in the northern suburbs of Chicago where he worked for 21 years before heading west to Arizona.
He said that while in Arizona, he had experienced similar situations to the LPD where the community had lost faith in his local police department. He added that there is no way for a ministry to succeed without this trust from the community.
“We need to get back to a better place, and I know Loveland is very capable of doing that,” he said. “You want a police department that you can trust, that is held accountable, and that is there for you not just in the bad times, but in the good times. And that’s what I want to bring to Loveland.
Farrow, responding to a question about recruitment and retention, said it’s important to make sure officers are doing the job they’re hired to do. He added that he plans to lead a department that doesn’t rely on “tick marks and numbers” to tell if an officer is doing well, but sees its success through community trust.
“People don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad leaders,” he said.
During the final hour of the event, contestants were able to personally meet community members themselves, who were able to ask questions directly and fill out a feedback sheet with their thoughts for each contestant.
City officials previously announced that this would be the final step in the chief selection process, with Loveland officials planning to announce the chosen nominee later in the fall.
The LPD has been without a permanent leader since April, when former leader Bob Ticer left to become city leader of Prescott Valley, Arizona. Deputy Chief Eric Stewart was named Acting Chief of the Department a few weeks before Ticer’s departure, a position he has held ever since; once a new leader has been chosen, Stewart is expected to return to his role as deputy leader.
The department and its head have come under intense criticism both locally and nationally in recent years, with a number of cases coming to the public’s attention. This includes the 2020 arrest of Karen Garner, the shooting of 19-year-old Alex Domina, alleged DUI arrests and more.