Making it to the final five is no fantasy for the remaining candidates vying for the position of Marco Island police chief.
A towering stack of nearly 250 resumes for the position has been narrowed down to the top five applicants by City Manager Steve Thompson. The position pays a maximum salary of $103,364 plus a fringe benefit allowance.
Two applicants are from within the Marco Island Police Department including acting Chief Thom Carr and Officer Ed Stenzel.
“I knew this position was desirable but you’ve got some heavy guns there competing ... I’m elated that the city manager put me in the group with them,” Carr said.
While this will be Carr’s first interview for a police chief position, two of the other candidates, Nicholas Kaiser of Troy, N.Y., and Thomas Magill of Hallandale Beach, have at least four years experience as police chiefs in their current departments.
Magill, 54 has been chief of the Hallandale Beach Police Department in Broward County since January 2004 and has worked for the department since 1974. He is the third generation of Magills in law enforcement, he said.
Magill was in meetings until 9 p.m., Monday, and first learned that he was among the top five contenders when contacted by the Eagle.
“I was smiling from ear to ear,” he said, after he read the e-mail during a break in his meeting.
Although he was honored to be considered among five successful candidates, he said the decision to leave Hallandale isn’t an easy one.
“I love Hallandale with all my heart ... (My leaving) is done out of love. I want all my friends to have the opportunity to succeed like I have succeeded,” Magill said of his coworkers in Hallandale.
Magill said he sees himself as a police officer before a chief.
“I may be a police chief but I’m still a police officer. I wouldn’t ask another police officer to do anything I wouldn’t do myself,” he said.
Magill plans to visit Marco Island prior to an interview in the next couple weeks to become further familiarized with the island, which he visits frequently. He recalls a photograph of his children sitting on the mermaid statue at the Marco Island Marriott from one of his first visits many years ago.
Kaiser, 60, has a condominium in Port Charlotte purchased last year and has visited Southwest Florida but says he has few other state or local ties. He is the Troy, N.Y. police chief and the department is about four times the size of the Marco Island Police Department with 122 sworn officers and a $14 million budget.
The Marco Island Police Department has 32 sworn officers and a $3.9 million budget.
Kaiser said learning Florida laws will not be an “insurmountable challenge” and his priorities would include community policing and providing a high quality of life on Marco Island.
“I’d look at the crime problems ... Doesn’t seem like you have many,” he added.
Marco Island’s violent crime rate is one-tenth of the national average and property crime rate one-third the national average, according to the FBI Report of Offenses Known to Law Enforcement.
Carr has been the acting chief since Roger Reinke became Naples’ assistant city manager in May. Carr started his career in Indianapolis and is one of the original members of the Marco Island Police Department, formed nine years ago.
“I’ve been preparing for this since the department has been here,” Carr said.
He added that he was not surprised to see Stenzel among the final five. Stenzel did not return phone calls to comment.
“ ... (Stenzel) is very qualified and I encouraged him to apply,” Carr said, adding that it would not be awkward if he became second in command to Stenzel upon completion of the interviews Aug. 1.
Stenzel, currently a patrolman, has 38 years of law enforcement experience including two years prior experience as assistant chief of police in Milwaukee, Wis.
He has nearly as many years experience in law enforcement as the youngest of the five candidates has in years of life.
The youngest, Edward Preston, 40 originally from Bradenton is currently the deputy chief of police for the New Bern Police Department in North Carolina. He described New Bern as an area similar to “Southwest Florida in the early ’80s.”
Preston added, “This is an opportunity to move back to where I’m from. I only applied for one job. This is it.”
Preston, a Persian Gulf War veteran of the Marine Corps, said he is eager to learn the “vision” that citizens, department heads and the city manager has for the police department.
All five candidates will be interviewed Aug. 1 The interview panel will be made up of the city’s five department directors and Chief Rob Petrovich from the City of Cape Coral, who Thompson said came highly recommended from other area city managers.
“I have as many questions for (the panel) as folks will probably have for me,” Preston said.