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Two Costa Mesa officers in race for police chief

Former interim chief and the commander of the ABLE helicopter program have both announced their intentions to apply for the job.

April 09, 2011|By Joseph Serna, joseph.serna@latimes.com

Editor's note: This removes Councilman Jim Righeimer because he did not help the other three men. This also corrects what the men did in Chief Executive Tom Hatch's office. This also adds Councilman Steve Mensinger's indirect quote that city funds were not used.

At least two Costa Mesa police officers are vying to become the next chief of police.

Both Capt. Les Gogerty, who acted as interim chief from November to March, and Sgt. Tim Starn, who heads the police helicopter program, confirmed they will apply for the top spot.

Gogerty stepped down as interim chief last month, saying that leading the department, his field operations division and then-Capt. Ron Smith's division was spreading him too thin. For about the last six months the police department had been operating with two of its highest ranking officers, Smith and then-chief Chris Shawkey, on administrative leave. Gogerty had to fill the void on top of his regular duties.

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Steven Staveley was named interim chief in March and will lead the department while Chief Executive Tom Hatch conducts an open recruitment for its sixth chief in department history.

Though Starn is technically only a sergeant, he has acted as commander for the AirBorne Law Enforcement helicopter program Costa Mesa shares with Newport Beach. The City Council voted earlier this year to dissolve the program, which would draw Starn back into the regular department fold.

Officers and city officials alike have suggested Starn should apply for the chief's position, he said. In mid-March, city officials said Starn helped Hatch and Councilman Steve Mensinger renovate Hatch's office.

Mensinger said no city funds were used in the project.

Starn said he will consider applying once the future of the ABLE program is clear. Officials in Costa Mesa and Newport Beach say they are considering several funding options that could keep the program intact.

According to the city's flier for the chief's position, the chief's salary will be between $154,248 and $206,700 in base pay. Applicants do not have to be a specific rank before becoming chief, but do have to have "at least five years of increasingly responsible police administrative managerial experience," according to the flier.

City records show Shawkey was the highest compensated employee in Costa Mesa in 2010. His base pay was $197,616.93 and with health benefits and pension costs, his compensation totaled $315,288.68.

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