In the interim, Alvarez named temp chief

M.P. Regan
Wednesday, April 27, 2022
Heir un-apparent

Assistant Police Chief Jeremy Alvarez (right) listens at last week’s Dillon City Council meeting, when Mayor John McGinley named Alvarez as “interim” police chief to serve as chief until a search settled on a full-time chief. M.P. Regan photo

Longtime Dillon Police Officer and Assistant Chief Jeremy Alvarez worked his way slowly, surely, and, according to his supervisor, with extreme competence up the ladder of the Dillon Police Department over the past decade.

Rising from probationary officer to patrolman to assistant police chief, his climb powered by consistently glowing job reviews from Police Chief Don Guiberson, Alvarez remained in the department as it roiled from turnover that included the departure of his former supervisor and his predecessor as assistant chief.

With Guiberson’s retirement from the department set to take effect at the end of April, Alvarez seemed the simple, logical selection to become Dillon’s next police chief.

“The city would be—and you can quote me on this—crazy not to appoint Jeremy Alvarez as the next chief of police,” Guiberson told the Dillon Tribune earlier this month.

“But it is the mayor’s decision.”

Last week, Mayor John McGinley revealed this choice to succeed Guiberson as full-time chief of police for the City of Dillon.

Nobody. At least not yet.

“We need to have an interim police chief when Chief Guiberson retires at the end of the month,” McGinley advised the city council during his Mayor’s Report shortly after the start of last Wednesday’s city council meeting.

“So, I want to move forward, hopefully for your approval, to nominate Jeremy Alavarez as our interim chief until we can find a chief after I do the due diligence of searching for one. We will swear him in on the 29th if you do approve him tonight for interim chief,” added McGinley.

“I was just going to ask, if you do have to advertise for this position, the full-time chief position?” wondered longtime City Councilperson Dan Nye.

“You don’t have to advertise for it, no,” replied McGinley. “What it is, people say, you know, ‘just look around, go to the police board, see if there’s any suitable ones better than Mr. Alvarez,” responded McGinley.

“We advertise for council positions, which in terms of responsibility and whatnot, are miniscule compared to the responsibilities of a chief of police,” said Councilperson Mary Jo O’Rourke.

“It would seem prudent to advertise—advertise all over the upper Midwest or upper western part of the United States,” added O’Rourke, before asking, “Is there something in state law or something in our city code somewhere that you don’t have to advertise?”

“It’s in the charter on appointees,” noted Russ Schwandt, one of the longest-serving members of the council.

“If I had my choice, we wouldn’t have an interim one, we’d have a chief. The interim chief is someone to fill in the position until we can appoint a chief,” continued McGinley, noting that Alvarez served as interim chief while soon-to-be retired Police Chief Don Guiberson was undergoing treatments for cancer.

“He’s just going to fill in until we find a chief.” The city council voted unanimously at its April 20 meeting to approve of the mayor’s appointment of Alvarez as chief of police—in the interim.

“I am very glad that Jeremy is—that we are not getting someone else new in our system because we like the consistency of keeping things flowing with the way the system we have is working,” said City Attorney Marta Farmer, who is acclimating to going before a substitute city judge for four months while City Judge Kaylan Minor serves in the National Guard.

“Thanks a lot for appointing me interim police chief,” Alvarez told the council.

“We’re going to be losing our chief at the end of the month. We’ve got some very big shoes to fill, for sure,” said Alvarez.

“I would like to talk maybe out of turn here,” said Dillon Volunteer Fire Department Chief BJ Klose, whose own department conducted an extensive search for a new chief before elevating him from assistant chief to chief.

“Assistant Chief of Police Alvarez has worked his way through the system of the Dillon Police Department,” began Klose.

“Everybody has continual praised the department. That is not only because of Mr. Guiberson— that is also because of Mr. Alvarez. The fastest way to tear a department apart is to hire from outside. You bring an outsider in that doesn’t know the department, who doesn’t know the culture, who doesn’t know the working relationships and that kind of thing—that is a quick recipe for disaster.”