OTTUMWA — Ottumwa's mayor knows the next police chief will be a good one even though he doesn't know which police officer it will be.
"We've got three excellent candidates," said Mayor Frank Flanders. "Regardless of who gets the job, we're going to come out of this with a very good chief."
Still, he said at a public meet and greet Thursday, he's hoping the Ottumwa City Council will choose the best of the three. Jeff Jirak, Tom McAndrew and Lawrence McNaul were the candidates.
The men, all currently serving as law enforcement officials in Iowa, introduced themselves, then interacted with the public.
McNaul is from Grinnell. He's served as a police sergeant with the Grinnell Police Department. He was then hired as chief deputy for the Poweshiek County Sheriff's Office, a position he held for years. Though still a deputy with supervisory responsibility, a newly elected sheriff brought in his own right-hand man. Yet even during the election, McNaul chose to remain neutral, he told the Courier, and stayed focused on the job, not politics.
That's not what got him interested in becoming a police chief. The Bronze Star recipient is a veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the military, he worked as an intelligence officer. In the civilian world, his goal is becoming a police chief.
"But we're very selective," he said of the applications he sends out. "I want to find a community that's right for us."
He and his wife like Ottumwa, he said, and have seen the potential for growth.
"We want to be a part of that," he said.
McAndrew has worked for the Ottumwa Police Department for 24 years and has served as lieutenant for the last five years. He stepped in as interim police chief when former chief Jim Clark retired in February. He is ready to take on the role of chief full time — especially now.