Police Chief Hamner is finalist for California police chief position

Bainbridge Island Police Chief Matthew Hamner is being recruited by his former boss to take over the police department in Banning, California.

Hamner met with Banning city officials for a round of interviews Friday, Nov. 16.

He was one of three candidates interviewed.

The other two were Steven Romero and John Turner, according to the Record Gazette. Romero is a police lieutenant in Hawthorne, California, and Turner served two terms as Walla Walla County Sheriff before deciding against running for re-election earlier this year.

According to the Record Gazette, the three candidates were interviewed by the Banning City Council and got a tour of the town before meeting the public at a community meeting later that evening.

Hamner said he interviewed for the post at the request of Doug Schulze, the former city manager for Bainbridge Island who was hired as Banning’s new city manager earlier this year.

“He asked me to come down and interview. So I did,” Hamner told the Review.

Hamner said he was questioned by several panels, and one included his former boss, Schulze.

“I think it went well,” Hamner said.

Hamner joined the Bainbridge force in 2013, and the Bainbridge city council approved a new employment contract for the chief just five months ago.

The new contract with the city followed a courtship of Hamner for the police chief job for the University of Colorado Police Department in Boulder, Colorado.

Hamner was one of five finalists for the post and visited Colorado for job interviews last May.

Hamner said his interviews in Banning earlier this month were entirely prompted by Schulze’s request that he come down for an interview.

“I did do it because Doug asked me,” Hamner said, noting that it was Schulze who made him police chief on the island. “I’m very, very grateful he brought me here. It’s been a wonderful experience.”

“Doug gave me such a great opportunity, in my opinion, the greatest opportunity I’ve had in law enforcement,” he added.

“Because of the great gift that I felt Doug bestowed on me, when he asked me to interview, I interviewed.

“Where that may lead, I don’t know,” he said.

Hamner took over as Bainbridge chief in June 2013, coming to the island from Indianapolis, Indiana, where he spent 23 years in the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, rising to the level of the chief’s executive officer by the time of his departure.

Banning is a Southern California town of 31,000 in Riverside County with the nickname of “Stagecoach Town, USA.” It’s a small working-class city with an economy built mainly on the motels, gas stations and restaurants that line Interstate 10.

The city of Banning reportedly hopes to announce its new police chief in January, according.

“Quite honestly, when something like this happens, it puts thoughts in your mind,” Hamner told the Review.

“Here’s my issue: I am very happy here. And content and so grateful for the community here. It’s been terrific. And I feel emotionally connected, quite honestly, to Bainbridge Island,” he said.

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