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City close to making decision on new police chief

Joshua Baethge,
The Anna-Melissa Tribune
City of Anna staffers and residents mingle with potential police chief candidates during an Oct. 6 Meet the Candidates event.

ANNA - The city of Anna has narrowed down its list of police chief candidates to three.

A final decision on who will replace the recently departed Chief Jeff Caponera is expected to be made in a matter of days.

Caponera left the Anna department in August after accepting the police chief position in Grafton, Wisconsin.

The three finalists each currently have leadership roles at other North Texas police departments.

They are Capt. Carrie White of the North Richland Hills Police Department, Deputy Chief Dean Habel of the Farmers Branch Police Department, and Chief Jeff Gibson of the Bedford Police Department.

Each candidate presented their case during an Oct. 6 event at the Anna ISD Education Center.

In attendance were various city leaders, city staff, a contingent of Anna police officers and members of the community.

After their presentations, the candidates had the opportunity to meet and greet those in attendance.

The evening event capped a grueling day of interviews for the three finalists that began at 7 a.m.

Over the course of the day, they met with patrol officers, police supervisors, outside advisers, an external committee of public safety officials, Anna city department heads and the city manager’s office.

City Manager Jim Proce said the lengthy interview process was designed to ensure that the right decision was made. He said that a new police chief is akin to a new family member, so he wanted someone who is the right fit with the right attitude. To do that, he involved the entire city organization so that all factors could be considered.

“The hiring of a police chief is one of the most important decisions that a city manager can make,” Proce said. “It’s a relationship that has to have trust without reservation from Day 1.”

There was no shortage of people interested in the Anna opening. It took about a week for the city to receive nearly 100 applications from across the country and beyond. From that pool, 13 potential candidates were chosen.

Those applicants were each given questionnaires about leadership traits. Only 12 responded, and seven made the cut. Those candidates were then administered a psychometric test on job fit and suitability, eliminating two more.

The remaining five were then interviewed via Zoom and whittled down to three. The finalists were administered a second questionnaire on police strategy and tactics as well as another psychometric test on triggers and stress indicators. All three passed.

“We’ve done everything except take blood,” Proce joked.

Gibson was appointed chief of the Bedford Police Department in 2015. He’s been with the department for 25 years, during which time he has worked in multiple capacities including narcotics officer, SWAT team leader, trainer and recruiter.

White has been with the North Richland Hills department for 19 years. She’s worked as a crime scene investigator, training coordinator and head community services which involved a wide range of responsibilities. She was on the SWAT team for 11 years, where she was assigned a variety of roles.

White also founded the nonprofit organization Women of Law Enforcement. It is comprised of female officers from across North Texas who aim to train more female officers.

Habel has spent 25 years with the Farmers Branch department. According to him, this is the first time he has interviewed with another department. He has 21 years of experience as a supervisor and 15 years as a member of the command staff and SWAT team. For the past four years, he has served as the deputy chief over operations. He also oversaw the special investigation unit for 18 years.

Proce plans to review feedback from all who took part in the interview process this week. He expects to then make a decision and begin the negotiation process soon.

Jeff Gibson. [Courtesy