Henderson starts search for new police chief after Moers’ departure

Updated June 22, 2017 - 9:58 pm

A nationwide search is underway for a new Henderson police chief to replace the agency’s former head Patrick Moers, who left the department after an internal investigation last month.

The search comes after the city announced earlier this month that Moers and Deputy Chief Bobby Long were “voluntarily separating” from the city.

“The ideal candidate will also inspire trust and confidence in our community and the employees of the Henderson Police Department he or she will lead as Chief,” City Manager Bob Murnane said in a recent press release.

Acting Police Chief Todd Peters recently made changes to the Police Department’s command structure to fill a void created by the departures of the department’s top two officials.

Their departures came just weeks after it was revealed that Moers and Long were placed under internal investigation at about the same time concerns were raised about mailers sent to local business owners promoting a foundation that Moers called the department’s only authorized fundraising group.

Mayor Debra March told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in May that the investigation was launched earlier that month after she saw the mailer — which included Moers’ photo and an image of a city of Henderson police badge.

“If it’s a ‘friends of’ organization, then generally it’s run by the department’s friends,” March said at the time when asked about the degree of separation between the foundation and the department. “I had concerns when I saw the mailer.”

It is unclear whether the investigation focused solely on that topic or touched on others as well.

Asked for details regarding the investigation, city officials cited policies and said they “cannot discuss any confidential personnel matters.”

City spokesman David Cherry has refused to discuss the investigation’s status. Former Mayor Andy Hafen weighed in on the topic last week, but did not reveal specifics.

“As far as having a personnel matter remain confidential I do believe it needs to continue to be that way,” Hafen said. “We had a couple of employees make a mistake that violates city policy. They thought it was best to separate from the city and the city manager agreed. Now we move forward.”

After Moers’ and Long’s departure, Peters named Dane Mattoon as acting deputy chief of operations and Marc Cassell as acting deputy chief of support. Both men are former captains.

“Both the new acting deputy chiefs are experienced members of the Henderson Police Department who bring decades of on the job experience to their roles,” Peters said in an email earlier this month.

Lt. Damon Smith was named acting captain to fill Cassell’s role at the Henderson Detention Center, and Lt. Brandon Brooks was named acting captain to replace Mattoon for the department’s West Area Command.

“All these officers know our community and what it takes to keep Henderson and its families safe,” said Peters, who was named acting chief in May after Moers was removed from his position during the investigation. “They are aware that these are positions that are for a limited time, and they are committed to maintaining the continuity needed as we transition when future decisions are made.”

Seeking new top cop

The city has hired Ralph Andersen & Associates to help with the recruitment process.

Eligible candidates must have 15 years of progressively responsible law enforcement experience, including five years of mid- to upper-level management experience with a police department.

Applications are being accepted through July 24 for the position, which pays an annual salary of between $125,985 and $193,823, city officials said. Moers’ salary was $185,300 at the time of his separation.

Murnane said he expects the recruitment process to take between 60 and 90 days.

Peters said he plans to compete for the top spot.

“But I am also committed to staying in the role of acting Chief for as long as needed, so that the transition is seamless when the next chief steps into the role,” Peters said in his email. “The department has very capable leadership now in place and the community will continue to see our officers out there getting the job done and protecting families, visitors and businesses in our city around the clock.”

Contact Sandy Lopez at slopez@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4686. Follow @JournalismSandy on Twitter.

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