Chico chief eyes campus job

UPD finalist Efford has been with city two years

EFFORD EXIT? <br>Chico Police Chief Mike Efford, who is one of three finalists for the chief job at Chico State University, declined to comment for this story. This photo is from a 1999 profile article.

Chico Police Chief Mike Efford, who is one of three finalists for the chief job at Chico State University, declined to comment for this story. This photo is from a 1999 profile article.

Photo by Tom Angel

Chief material: Qualifications for the job of Chico State police chief include 10 years’ experience, including three as a supervisor or manager. Candidates must also have the equivalent of a four-year degree in police science, criminology or public administration.

Chico State University’s gain may send the city into its own lengthy search process, if a particular top candidate for the school’s chief of police job ends up being selected.

Chico Police Chief Michael Efford, who has been with the city department for about two years, is among the three finalists.

Efford, who was in Anaheim this week at a conference, relayed through his secretary that his “only comment is no comment.”

Efford is the only local finalist, several sources confirmed.

If he is chosen, the city of Chico will likely find itself hiring a professional recruiting firm and spending about six months looking for a new chief, City Manager Tom Lando said.

The university has been searching for its chief for more than a year after Chief Mike Minard retired in December 2000 after 13 years. The application deadline was Nov. 26, and a search committee narrowed the field to three candidates. During the last couple of weeks, representatives from various campus populations fired questions at each of the finalists.

Jimmy Reed, the Associated Students vice president, would not reveal the candidates’ names but did say that he and A.S. President Amber Johnsen were impressed with the selection and would be pleased with the hiring of any of them.

Bill Jones, the university staff member who is chairman of the search committee, said the process will be complete “within a week” and then all that’s left is for Dennis Graham, who is vice president for business and finance, to meet with President Manuel Esteban to choose a chief. “A decision will probably be made by the end of February,” Jones said.

Lando said he was initially “caught off guard” when Efford approached him (he also told people in the Police Department) with a heads-up that he was applying to Chico State. It seems soon to again be without a chief, Lando acknowledged, but, “generally, two years is an accepted standard” as far as turnover goes.

“I think Mike would be a very good fit at the university,” he said.

City Councilmember Coleen Jarvis said that, although it would be a challenge to search for a new chief, she’s excited by the idea that the city’s relationship with the university could improve with Efford’s switch to the campus job. “Can you imagine having somebody at the University Police Department that is actually familiar with the workings of the Chico Police Department?”

She speculated that Efford, who is very much a family man, found the campus job intriguing in part because he wouldn’t be saddled with things like three or four night meetings a week. “I don’t believe that the university would require that kind of time commitment,” Jarvis said.

The position pays $80,000 to $95,000 a year, depending on qualifications, plus “an attractive benefits package,” according to the job announcement. Lando said Efford’s city pay is about that, but, “I think it’s probably a step up, moving into the state system.”

In a 1999 interview with the Chico News & Review, Efford said the city Police Department’s relationship with its counterpart at Chico State was “pretty good” but he wished it were better. He specifically hoped for UPD to become more involved off-campus.

Efford, who is in his early 50s, came to Chico in summer 1999, having been lured away from a chief’s job in Sonora, in Tuolumne County. Before that, he was in charge of the patrol division in Carson City, Nev.

At the Chico Police Department, Efford generally continued the tone set by progressive predecessor Mike Dunbaugh, pushing “community policing,” in which groups like students, parents and others are involved in the decision-making process rather than seeing the police as adversaries. Efford himself comes across as friendly and easy-going.

Reed, the A.S. representative, said one of any new chief’s biggest challenges would be working within the tight budget granted the University Police Department, less than 1 percent of Chico State’s total spending. “It would be great if we could get more money in that department,” Reed said. “It’s one of the lowest-budgeted [police departments] in the CSU system.”

Lt. Kelly Clark, who has been serving as interim chief in the period since Minard’s exit, didn’t apply for the job.

He said the department is looking forward to having a permanent supervisor in place. He reiterated the fact that the new chief is would face a tight budget. “We’re the second-worst-staffed at the 23 universities,” Clark said.

As for any possible perception that a campus police job is a lesser role than that of a municipal cop, Clark said UPD’s officers usually have more experience than their counterparts. “This job is really attractive in terms of benefits and pay and working conditions,” he said, brushing aside people who ask “if we’re going to be Chico police officers when we grow up.”

“I’ll put them task-for-task against any of the law enforcement in the county," Clark added.