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No matter who Idaho Springs officials choose to succeed Police Chief Chris Malanka, the three finalists felt confident that all of them were qualified and ready for the job.
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The city hopes to announce the week of Feb. 15 which of the three will take over as chief.
During a virtual public forum on Feb. 11, more than 100 community members listened to the three finalists describe their accomplishments, their approach to community policing and public engagement, and how they intend to measure success.
Nathan Buseck of the Cheyenne, Wyoming Police Department; Michael Dolan, who recently retired from the Collier County, Florida Sheriff's Office; and Misty Siderfin, who is chief of the Severance, Colorado Police Department, all said they want to continue Malanka's work of collaborating with residents to solve chronic problems.
On Feb. 12, the City Council held interviews with the candidates at City Hall while a professional panel conducted another set of interviews at the rec center.
City Administrator Andy Marsh confirmed that the council planned to discuss who to hire late Friday and reach out with an offer sometime over the weekend or early next week.
Buseck is a captain and second-in-command for the Cheyenne Police Department, where he has served for 21 years. He has a bachelor's degree in criminology from the University of New Mexico and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy.
He and his wife have four kids — the oldest of whom lives in Littleton — and the family enjoys camping, hiking and fishing. He also played soccer in college and later coached it, saying that's where his leadership principles originate.
Buseck said he loves the Idaho Springs community and wants to bring his experiences to upcoming projects such as the Argo Gold Mill's gondola.
He said he plans to be in Idaho Springs for the next eight to 10 years.
"I see this being my retirement place — where I'm part of this community and am able to leave a legacy," he continued.
As chief, Buseck said he would prioritize relationships with the community and ISPD officers.
One aspect of community policing he highlighted was a program he's participated in where low-level offenders were moved into treatment, saying, "You have to get away from the mindset that you're going to fix that (addiction) by putting people in jail."
He also wanted to continue engaging the public via social media and proposed starting monthly videos to educate people about ISPD's jobs and resources.
"(Community policing work) has to be constant ... so (the public) gets to know you and you get to know them," he continued.
Dolan, a part-time resident of Erie, Colorado, recently retired as commander of the sheriff's department in Naples, Florida, where he worked for 36 years. He has a bachelor's degree in business management and master's degrees in business administration and global studies.
He and his wife have five daughters and five grandkids with a sixth on the way, and many of his family members live in the Denver area.
Dolan described how he worked for one of Florida's flagship local law enforcement agencies and he hopes to bring those experiences to Idaho Springs for at least five years.
"I have a lifetime of experience; I have been tried by fire and have come out all the better for it," he said. " ... Allow me to make Idaho Springs the pinnacle of my career."
Dolan described how he's worked in multiple cities with very diverse racial demographics where he fostered personal relationships and learned to proverbially put himself in the citizens' shoes.
Among his examples of community policing, Dolan started and led a program to teach at-risk girls martial arts. He also partnered with the school district to provide open gyms for Florida youth during the summer so they weren't recreating at night when it was dangerous.
Ultimately, he described the police as the fulcrum and the community as the lever — only together can they move large obstacles.
"To be successful, we (police officers) must be listeners more so than doers," he said.
Siderfin most recently served as Severance, Colorado's first police chief, creating the department. She previously worked for the Silverthorne Police Department for 14 years, where she attained the rank of patrol sergeant/commander and later interim chief. She has bachelor's and master's degrees in criminal justice.
Siderfin, who grew up in Colorado and has family in Lakewood and Golden, described how an ancestor was a miner in Idaho Springs. Thus, she and her children feel connected to the community and its history.
Given that the majority of her career has been in a small mountain community, Siderfin said she's learned how to handle big-city crime with small-town resources as well as the importance of building rapport among residents and businesses.
Siderfin's a big fan of events, such as Safe Summer Kick-off and community barbecues, where everyone can meet each other, commenting, "We may not always agree, but finding that common ground is imperative."
Among the larger issues facing Idaho Springs, Siderfin listed drug use, vehicle thefts and mental health calls. She said she's a major proponent of crisis intervention teams and treating people with dignity rather than asking rote questions.
"There are times when really good people have a really bad day," she said.
Siderfin described how she's excited about everything that's happening in Idaho Springs, including eventually moving the police headquarters to the fire station, and said it would be an honor to continue what Malanka and his team have started.
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