One of Mesa Police Department's assistant chiefs is a finalist for police chief jobs in Florida and Alaska.
Mike Denney, who began his law enforcement career in Arizona in 1970 and has been with Mesa since 2007, is one of three finalists for the police chief's job in Anchorage, Alaska, and one of 12 finalists in Clearwater, Fla., according to city officials in both cities.
Denney, who also is one of 14 finalists for the chief's post in Mesa, told the Tribune on Thursday that he began "exploring his options" when he learned in the spring that former Chief George Gascón was leaving for the top job with the San Francisco Police Department.
"I want to be a police chief, but the opportunities to be a police chief are limited in Arizona right now," Denney said. "This compels me to step away from my career goal or look elsewhere. Certainly, Mesa is a prime choice, but you never know what can happen in the process. I'm looking at places where we could live long term."
Denney, who also has worked for the Cochise County Sheriff's Office and the Arizona Department of Public Safety, said he interviewed for the police chief's job in Chula Vista, Calif., this summer where he was one of eight finalists.
Anchorage, which has a population of about 300,000 and a department of about 400 sworn officers, is expected to schedule interviews with the three finalists by mid-November, according to Nancy Usera, employee-relations director for Anchorage. The mayor would appoint the chief by the end of the year.
Mesa has about 800 sworn officers in a city of slightly more than 456,000, with assistant police chiefs making a top salary of $128,900, according to the city's pay scale.
After Denney submitted a letter of interest and résumé for the Anchorage job in August, he was selected as a finalist out of 37 applicants.
The top annual salary in Anchorage is $124,000, but that possibly could be higher or lower, depending on who the final candidate is, Usera said.
Interviews also are being scheduled for the 12 finalists for the Clearwater chief's post for mid-November, according to Joelle Castelli, Clearwater city spokeswoman. Denney was selected as a finalist out of about 50 applicants in that department, which has 250 sworn officers.
The Clearwater chief would be appointed by the city manager sometime in January.