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Search for New Chief Narrows

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October 26, 2014 by Steve Winkler

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-By Steve Winkler-
WF PD badgeWest Fork is a step closer to finding new leadership in the police department. Former chief, John Collins resigned in August 2014. Collins was appointed Interim Police Chief by Mayor Frances Hime in November, 2012, after Mike Nelson resigned the position. He became chief after a probationary period. Hime noted that Collins had received recommendations from numerous law enforcement officials including Washington County Sherriff Tim Helder and Fayetteville Police Chief Greg Tabor, both West Fork residents.
The Council vote to approve the appointment was 6-2 with council members Charlie Rossetti and Julie Shafer voting against Collins’s appointment. Retiring chief, Mike Nelson, publically expressed dissatisfaction with the appointment of Collins. Mike Nelson is the father of John Nelson, a sergeant in the police department.
After Mayor Hime’s resignation as mayor in November 2013, the council appointed Rossetti interim mayor and after a special election in April, 2014, Rossetti became the elected mayor. Mike Nelson is now on the city council. John Collins was popular with the citizens but was left without the support from Rossetti’s administration. He resigned. He is currently a candidate for a seat on the city council.
Soon after Collins’s resignation, the police commission began a search for a new chief. Police commission members are Craig Stout, Fayetteville Police Department Information Officer,Chair; Jerry Jenson; Tim Helder Washington County Sheriff; Tony Alvarado and Jeff Baker, former mayor.
The opening was advertised in the law enforcement community and the city received 24 applicants. Only one, Michael Ball, was from the West Fork department. According to commission chair Stout the commission used a process involving numerical values ascribed to such variables as administrative experience and education to arrive at list of four candidates. One of those candidates removed his name from consideration after finding employment elsewhere, according to Stout.
Those three individuals were discussed in an Executive Session of the commission on October 15, 2014. Minutes of the meeting, taken by the mayor, indicate that background checks will be made but he did not reveal the names of the three short-listed candidates. Mayor Rossetti responded to an email from the Observer requesting the names, saying, “…I don’t think it would be appropriate to release that information.”
From information partially provided by Craig Stout and an Washington County Observer online investigation it was determined that the three finalists for the position are James Bacon, Scott Rosson and Jim Wilmeth.
Relevant links:
Collins Appointed Interim Chief: http://wcobserver.com/2012/11/collins-tapped-for-chief/
Collins Resigns: http://www.nwahomepage.com/fulltext-news/d/story/west-fork-police-chief-resigns-effective-immediate/21823/QUg6cDguOUipNFOLa46cOw

Three Finalists
James Bacon retired from the Nixa, Missouri Police Department in 2013 where he served as Chief. He had a 29 year career in law enforcement.
“Chief Bacon began his career in 1984 as a reserve deputy for the Jefferson County Rescue in Pine Bluff, Ark. A little more than a year later he started working full time as a police officer with the Pine Bluff Police Department, where he served within every division and at every rank up to and including the position of Division Captain.
“In 2001, he accepted his first position as Chief of Police for the city of White Hall, Ark., before moving to Russellville, Ark., two and half years later to serve as its Police Chief. The final chapter of his law enforcement career began in October of 2006, when he accepted the position of Police Chief for the city of Nixa.” From an Internet article.
After retirement Bacon then planned to enter the private sector in Texas, according to the press release of his retirement.
Nixa, Missouri is located about 10 miles south of Springfield. Nixa’s population is 19,858 and growing. The racial mix is 92% white, 3% Hispanic and 1% black. The police department has 12 full time employees with an average yearly wage of $28,673.
Relevant link:
http://www.jrn.com/ktts/news/Nixa-Police-Chief-James-Bacon-Announces-Retirement-229770691.html

Scott Rosson retired from the Camden, Arkansas Police Department where he served as Department Commander. “Captain Rosson was the Department’s second in command. He was responsible for patrol, K-9 unit, Special Response Team, Street Crimes Unit, bike patrol and all matters related to Patrol Division and the Criminal Investigation Division. He was educated at Grace Christian Academy, Waldo High School, SAU Tech, Institute for Law Enforcement Administration.” From an online article.
Camden, Arkansas is located in the south central part of the state. Its population is 11,674 which has declined in the past decade. The racial makeup of Camden is 54% black, 40% white and 2% Hispanic.
The Camden Police Department has 12 full time employees; the average yearly wage is $19,045
Relevant link:
Camden Police Department http://camden.ar.gov/content.aspx?pid=22

Jim Wilmeth recently retired from the position of Undersheriff with the Lea County Sheriff Department headquartered in Lovington, New Mexico, located on the eastern border of the state in the Odessa/Midland, Texas area. Lovington has a population of 11,275 and is growing. The racial mix is 68% Hispanic, 27% white and 2% black.
From the Summary on his Linkedin page: “31 year law enforcement professional and FBINA graduate preparing to retire from my present assignment. Currently searching for an agency or organization seeking a dedicated, experienced manager with strong communication skills, experience in managing change, and intense focus on providing proficient, quality service.”
In addition to education and experience information, an internet search of Jim Wilmeth points to his articulation of conservative politics with regard to law enforcement.
In a January 17, 2011 article titled, “Who are the real law enforcers- the police or we-the-people? writer/interviewer Sher Zieve begins:
“Some time ago, I interviewed Captain Jim Wilmeth, who was then running for Sheriff of Lea County NM. Jim has not only a refreshing stance on enforcing our country’s laws but, his opinions are based squarely on the US Constitution.
Note: With today’s increasing attempts by our government to create a suppressive totalitarian society, his expressed viewpoints are placed in the position of being amongst the rare, honorable and dangerous to a suppressive regime.”
A quote by Jim Wilmeth from that interview:
“I want to bring up this important point though: the vesting of power in certain individuals to act on behalf of everyone else in their community did not entertain the idea that individuals relinquished that authority. This remains the case today. Current case law supports that police do not possess a Constitutional duty to protect an individual.

With all this in mind, I suggest law enforcement would operate better by embracing its historical foundation and returning to the simple concept that it is not an entity apart from its community, it is an arm of that community. It is populated by its community members, guided by them, empowered by them and focused by them. From a Constitutional point of view, this means that law enforcement is most effective when it refuses to be utilized as a tool for modifying social behavior, and instead, remains subservient to the mores of its local community support.”
Relevant links:
Linked in profile: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/james-wilmeth/74/238/798
Conservative Crusader article online – http://www.conservativecrusader.com/articles/captain-jim-wilmeth-a-new-breed-of-constitutional-law-enforcers
RenewAmerica online Interview – http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/zieve/110117
The time and date of personal interviews of the candidates by the commission has not been announced to the public.

Steve Winkler

Steve Winkler is the publisher and editor of the Observer. Email him at steve@wcobserver.com

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1 comment »

  1. Guy McWilliams says:

    How refreshing,a police officer who believes in the constitution,Jim Wilmeth still honors the “to serve and protect” moto that I grew up with.These days these qualities seem to be rare indeed.

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