If vying for Bainbridge Island's police chief position is like courting, this was the moment when prospective suitors come home to meet the family.
Five candidates for the position put on their best ties and smiles to armor themselves against public scrutiny Thursday as islanders got an up-close-and-personal look at the finalists. It was a time for islanders to get an impression of the men looking to take charge of the police department, complete with an array of cookies and conversation.
"It was thoughtful, and people really made a point of talking to each of the candidates," said Councilwoman Anne Blair, who attended Thursday's meet-and-greet.
"I watched people go around and engage with each candidates," she said. "It bodes well for whomever is selected because I think our community is ready to be engaged and be supportive."
"People want this to be a successful person," Blair said.
The meet-and-greet followed a tour of the police department and a chance for the five candidates to visit with the men and women of the police department they may one day lead.
But Thursday's gatherings was merely the first step in the interview process.
Four candidates — Richard Goerling, Harry Glidden, Bryce Johnson and Matthew Hamner — were flown in for two days of intensive interviews. The fifth candidate, Richard Daniels, already lives on the island in West Port Blakely.
"It's the first time we've had an active and engaged process for selecting a police chief," Blair said. "If the candidates don't know Bainbridge Island better than the average bear after this, it's not for lack of trying."
If they haven't already, the candidates will certainly get a primer on the island community.
They will spend all day Friday floating between four separate interview panels filled with local figures, in addition to an interview with City Manager Doug Schulze, who will ultimately bear the hiring decision.
"They will have been exposed across a lot of different interest groups on Bainbridge in the four panels, and also the community reception," Blair said. "That's some pretty intense exposure to a lot of different people."
The first panel consists of local law enforcement officials including Bainbridge’s Interim Public Safety Director Larry Dickerson, Poulsbo’s Acting Chief Bob Wright, Suquamish Police Chief Mike Lasiner, Normandy Park Police Chief Chris Gaddis, and Kitsap County Sheriff Steve Boyer.
The second panel will place the applicants in front of the city's department heads such as Deputy City Manager Morgan Smith, Finance Director Ellen Schroer, Planning Director Kathy Cook, and a representative from the public works department.
An intergovernmental panel includes representatives from the Bainbridge Island Fire Department, Bainbridge Island School District, Kitsap Mental Health Services, and the Bainbridge Island Metropolitan Parks and Recreation District.
The fourth interview will be a citizen panel that includes Linda McMaken from the Civil Service Commission, Michael Yesley from the Ethics Board, Joanne Tews from Helpline House, and Rev. Dennis Tierny representing Islanders for Collaborative Policing.
Schulze has said that it is possible he will announce the name of the winning candidate by the end of Friday's interviews.