Assistant police chief to retire

Community invited to meet candidates to replace Tom Porter

Posted: Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Tom Porter, the No. 2 man in the Juneau Police Department, has had a long and honorable career in law enforcement, said Chief Greg Browning, who believes there are three strong candidates to take Porter's place.

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The three finalists for assistance chief - from California, Arizona and Florida - will meet with the public from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday in the lobby of the police station.

It's a job that requires working with the public, Browning said.

"That's why we're going to have a public reception," he said.

Jon Lipsky, of Mission Viejo, Calif., has 20 years of experience with the FBI, Browning said. Page Decker, of Glendale, Ariz., is a former police chief of Ashland, Wis., and a 26-year veteran of the Scottsdale, Ariz., department. Gregory Feldman, of Miami, is a former assistant chief with the South Miami, Fla., department.

Browning said no one from the Juneau Police Department expressed interest in the position.

Porter will retire at the end of November after more than 35 years of police work, but will go on leave in mid-October.

He came to Juneau from Amarillo, Texas, in September 2000, and was hired as department captain. He said he and his wife enjoyed life in the capital.

"(Seeing Alaska) was one of those dreams we always had," he said.

He started his law enforcement career as a patrolman in Amarillo in 1971. In Juneau he was promoted from captain to assistant chief this spring after Browning replaced Chief Richard Gummow.

Browning said he worked with Porter for 28 years, both in Amarillo and Juneau. He called him a top-knotch officer.

"I'm sorry to see him go, but I'm excited for him," Browning said.

Porter plans to return to Texas then do some traveling. He said he found many differences between working in Juneau and working in Texas. Police in Juneau have to deal more with quality-of-life issues, such as matters involving bears.

"I think it's a substantially different type of police work," he said. "I don't get the sense of violent crime issues that are common in other areas."

The assistant chief runs the department in the chief's absence, but often has other roles in the community and within the department, Browning said. In the past, the assistant chief has played a major role in personnel and budgeting issues, he added. He has been involved with union negotiations.

The finalists were selected from eight candidates after a nationwide search, Browning said. The department conducted interviews Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

"We have some exercises for them to do," he said. "There's a process they will go through."

The salary range for the position is $76,439 to $98,191.

Officer Paul Comolli, president of the Juneau chapter of the Public Safety Employees Association, said he hopes as many people as possible turn out Monday night to meet the candidates.

"We understand this is a big position," he said, speaking for the union. "The next assistant chief is likely to step up and be our next chief. He has to be someone who can think on his feet and certainly have some political savvy."

• Tony Carroll can be reached at

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