Police chief candidates to be unveiled

Published 8:10 pm Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The public will have a chance to meet the four candidates for the position of Port Arthur Police Chief at a community forum set for 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Department Club, 1924 Lakeshore Drive.

The candidates include Arthur Barclay, Jesus Campa, Jeff Fant and Patrick Melvin.

A final choice will likely be made some time this week, City Manager Brian McDougal said.

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The city obtained the help of a search firm, Strategic Government Resources, who was responsible for posting the job. The firm is the same one that recruited McDougal to the city.

The search was a multi-step process where the candidates submitted applications or resumes along with answering a questionnaire with 25 questions and submitted a video through the firm’s site.

Applicants that did not meet the specified criteria for experience and education were cut from the herd.

Citizens, McDougal said, have been involved in the search process. Three committees consisting of citizens, local pastors, NAACP members and police officers have taken part.

“The assistant city manager and I got together and found what we felt is a good cross section of people,” McDougal said of the committees.

But a quick internet search shows that some of the candidates have alleged past incidents that are negative.

“The community needs to understand we will not have someone in the position of police chief that is not above reproach,” he said. “In the questionnaire we asked them to disclose two things – is there anything in your background that will cause the city pause or that we will catch on the internet and also cause pause. Each candidate had disclosed what had happened. If there are allegations out there we need to get to the bottom of it, true or not.”

Wednesday will be a busy day for the committee members, city staff and the candidates for the position. Interviews will be done in the morning and by late afternoon comes the meet and greet.

According to Texas Government Code the final decision will be made by city council.

But, should the candidates not pass the final parts of the process, there is the possibility that all names will be scrapped and the search start all over. This will be performed for free.

McDougal said it is not unheard of to do this although he is confident in the recruiter and the firm.

The four final candidates are from outside the area.

“We have candidates from all over the country and I’m really pleased with the level of experience and education,” he said. “Nothing against our local police department, we just had some great candidates that applied for the position.”

The candidates include:

Jesus Campa began his career in law enforcement in April 1994 with the El Paso Sheriff’s Office. He moved through the ranks to chief deputy of law enforcement and left the office in 2014. He spent two months as police chief for Ector County Independent School District before moving to the police chief’s position in Marshall.

He was recently one of 10 finalists for the chief’s position in Galveston but was turned down in April, according to the Marshall News Messenger.

An internet search of Campa shows allegations of an FBI investigation and embezzlement but no formal charges filed.

Arthur Barclay is deputy chief with the Fort Worth Police Department and has more than 28 years in law enforcement experience, according to his resume.

His current responsibilities require he oversee the overall operations of four functional police department divisions. Barclay is a 1980 graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School in Port Arthur. He attended Lamar University College of Business in Beaumont and Dallas Baptist University where he earned a bachelors degree in criminal justice and also earned other specialized training.

Jeff Fant is retired from his position as assistant chief at the San Angelo Police Department with 24 years experience in law enforcement. He was hired into the department in 1992 and served in numerous capacities including being responsible for executive oversight over budget for staffing and operations expenses.

Patrick Melvin is retired chief of police at Salt River Police Department, Scottsdale, Arizona for the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. He has more than 30 years experience in law enforcement, according to his resume. He is also a U.S. Army veteran and commissioned officer of the Armed Forces of the United States of America.

He has previously served as an assistant city manager for the city of Maricopa, Arizona, public safety director and fire chief/public safety manager.

According to the Casa Grande Dispatch, Melvin left the Arizona post after being placed on administrative leave earlier this year. No further information was released on the issue.

A fifth candidate, Henry Porretto, who is interim chief of Mathis, Texas police department, pulled his name out of the hat earlier this week. He retired from the Galveston Police Department following an employee complaint and investigation prior to that, according to information from The Galveston County Daily News.

He did not give reason for dropping from the candidate pool, McDougal said.

Longtime Port Arthur Police Chief Mark Blanton announced his retirement in December 2015 and his last official day was to be Dec. 31, 2015. He agreed to stay on in the police chief role as a temporary position until a new chief was hired. He stayed on until May 2016.

Weldon Dunlap, retired assistant chief for Beaumont Police Department, was brought in as interim chief in Port Arthur upon Blanton’s departure.

Mary Meaux: 409-721-2429

Twitter: @MaryMeauxPANews