The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

April 25, 2013

Search for police chief in the homestretch

OTTUMWA —The search for a new police chief has narrowed to three candidates.

The Ottumwa Civil Service Commission certified a list of six applicants for the position at its meeting Tuesday. The top three for the position include Tom McAndrew of Ottumwa; Jeff Jirak of Wilton; and Lawrence McNaul of Grinnell.

"They certified the list of six and then we're interviewing the Iowa candidates out of the six," said City Administrator Joe Helfenberger.

The other three candidates were from Alaska, New York and the Los Angeles area and are no longer in the running. Of these three, one had significant issues that Helfenberger said disqualified him from the running.

"We found there were issues related to employee relations, communication and handling public matters that I felt weren't acceptable," 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.

"I think you have to give McAndrew credit for his local knowledge, but I think you have three strong candidates, and I think any of the three would do a good job for the city," Helfenberger said.

Jirak began as lieutenant with the Muscatine Police Department in 2010. Alongside this full-time position, he has served as chief of the Nichols Police Department since 2002.

McNaul has served as a chief deputy with the Poweshiek County Sheriff's Office since 2001. Prior to this, he was a police officer with the Grinnell Police Department from 1995-2001, serving in a number of different roles. He also has military experience dating back to 1989.

This is not the first time Jirak and McNaul have vied for a position as police chief. Jirak was a finalist for police chief in Dickinson, N.D., in 2011, and McNaul was a finalist for police chief in Grinnell last year.

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