Hired recruiter Joel Bryden listens to Arcata residents at Wednesday’s community forum.  

Arcata community members shared what they hope for in a new chief of police at a city forum last night. The meeting at Arcata City Hall was hosted by Joel Bryden, vice president of Bob Murray and Associates, which was hired by the City to help recruit the new chief.

Arcata Police Chief Tom Chapman’s resignation in April left community members with many questions. Chapman’s resignation closely followed retired FBI agent Tom Parker’s departure from the investigation of the murder of David Josiah Lawson. Many residents questioned the motivation behind Chapman’s resignation and wondered what this would mean for the Lawson case.

“Trust has been lost with this police department. For different reasons. But obviously the Josiah Lawson case has really exacerbated that,” said Arcata resident and NAACP member Zera Starchild during the forum.  “Whoever is coming in needs to know that they’re coming in to a wary community that’s thinking trust is earned. It is not going to be given blindly or freely.“

In addition to the clear concerns surrounding the Lawson case, multiple people mentioned desires for a candidate who is experienced working in diverse communities, someone who has experience working with people of color and indigenous communities and someone who is bilingual.

Humboldt County auditor-controller candidate Karen Paz Dominguez spoke during the meeting about the importance of a bilingual chief in this community, which is home to many Spanish-speaking only residents. She also mentioned finding a candidate with no history of domestic violence.

“I would like this person to have training in nonviolent conflict resolution,” Paz Dominguez said. “I think it would set a very good example for the communities within Humboldt County if they see someone who has the power and the right to be fully armed and not necessarily needing to use it every time they make an arrest.”

So, what’s next? Bryden said he’ll be meeting with the Arcata Police Department and city staff today to get more input. After that, his company will create a brochure that will be made available to the public and mailed to various police departments. The position will be posted on the City of Arcata’s job opportunities page as well as on the Bob Murray and Associates website. Applications will be accepted until July 13.

Bryden said he will select approximately 12 potential candidates, conduct preliminary interviews and extensive background checks. On July 31, Bryden will present his recommendations to Arcata City Manager Karen Diemer. After that the decision is up to the City of Arcata.

For anyone who didn’t make it to the meeting, Bryden insists that “I’m all ears.” He can be reached at joelb@bobmurrayassoc.com.