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October 27, 2011 9:13 am

Sgt. Roy Eckerdt hired as Powell police chief

Written by CJ Baker

The city of Powell didn’t have to look far for its new police chief.

Powell Police Sgt. Roy Eckerdt was informed on Monday afternoon that he would be the department’s new chief come January.

Eckerdt, 42, will take over for Tim Feathers, who is retiring at the end of the year after 13 years as chief and more than 30 years with the department.

Eckerdt joined the department in December 2003 and became a sergeant in July 2004.

In an interview on Tuesday, Eckerdt indicated he is not planning wholesale changes to the department.

“I think the agency as it stands has a strong moral and ethical foundation. The agency is well-equipped to carry out its duties and responsibilities,” Eckerdt said. “I think there is more to be added to what we already have, so there’s not necessarily going to be a change in direction, just more facets added to that.”

Eckerdt said he wants to expand the agency’s relationship with the community, building on the trust and support it already has.

“I want them (the community) to know who we are as a police department, to build that relationship,” he said.

That stood out to City Administrator Zane Logan.

“Roy showed a real interest and some examples and ideas for community involvement that I thought was maybe the one area we can improve upon,” said Logan, who hired Eckerdt after assembling a selection committee that included City Public Services Director Gary Butts, Water Superintendent Bill Winters and Councilmen John Wetzel and Don Hillman.

In submitting his retirement notice a month ago, Feathers said the department needed someone with the energy and skills to make Powell police’s good relationship with the community more collaborative and interactive — to take it to the next level.

“I didn’t have the skill-set to make that happen,” Feathers said. “I believe Roy does.”

Endorsing the committee’s choice, he called Eckerdt “a good choice for a number of reasons.”

Eckerdt said, “Ultimately, all this is bigger than me. It’s not about me, it’s about the agency and the community.”

Logan said the city’s general hiring process for department heads involves looking at internal candidates before seeking outside applicants.

“We are, I feel, a pretty close community,” Logan said. “And I feel there’s a value in making sure there’s a fit there.”

In this case, he said, the city had two “very qualified” candidates in Eckerdt and fellow Sgt. Alan Kent. Logan said that made for a difficult decision, praising both candidates’ integrity, experience and openness about “what’s working and what needs to be worked on” at the police department.

“Together, there’s a great resource of a partnership there, no matter what the order is,” Logan said of the two candidates, both sergeants.

Feathers, who did not participate in the selection, said the promotion of an internal candidate showed the department has a healthy process of developing leadership.

“If an agency’s reaching outside, that’s usually an indication that you don’t have a healthy leadership development process internally,” Feathers said.

Hiring an internal candidate means a greater degree of stability for the department and community, and, for the incoming chief, immediate familiarity with the city’s policing issues and its people, he said.

“(Eckerdt) has already established in the community, he’s already established in the department and in that sense he’s proven himself here as a sergeant,” said Feathers, who was a lieutenant when he became acting chief in 1998.

In applying for the position, Eckerdt said one of the goals shared by both himself and Kent was to maintain continuity in the department.

Eckerdt previously had 10 years of active duty in the U.S. Air Force, ultimately serving as a non-commissioned officer in charge of security operations. After a brief stint as a detention deputy with the Laramie County Sheriff’s Office, Eckerdt joined the Sutton, Neb., police department. He became chief of the two-and-a-half-officer department before coming to Powell. When he starts as chief here, he will oversee 14 officers.

Eckerdt noted that Feathers is still the chief for the next two months. Feathers said he will give Eckerdt’s opinions more weight between now and the end of the year, particularly with long-lasting decisions such as hiring.

Eckerdt will be only the fourth Powell police chief since 1960, Feathers said.

13 comments

  • Comment Link October 27, 2011 11:12 am posted by JJ

    Really? I mean Really? Good Old Boys....Feather's pick...what a missed opportunity for the City of Powell to change the direction of a dysfunctional group who are viewed as such by the L.E. community as a whole, of course you never hear that as you hear what you are feed from your G.O.B. network. In today's times for such an important position the process lacks validity and does not fit the industry process. Eckerdt has been done a dis-service not having to compete with a nation wide search and coming to the top if he had it in him; shame on Powell Administration for going with an easy pick due to lack of planning and forethought.

  • Comment Link October 27, 2011 3:22 pm posted by Disgusted taxpayer

    JJ,it's The Hegelian Dialectic at work.The same goes for the entire county.

  • Comment Link October 27, 2011 8:13 pm posted by LoveMyTown

    I too am disappointed that the City didn't seek outside applicants. It's not a secret in Powell that Mr. Feathers was not well-liked. The decision to hire from with-in the department only perpetuates his influence beyond his retirement. While I do know and respect many of the officers currently working, I feel that a fresh face with different experiences may have been the push the department needed to gain that "better" relationship with the community that it desires. Yes, an opportunity was indeed missed.

  • Comment Link October 27, 2011 8:20 pm posted by Angry Citizen

    I agree with JJ and Disgusted taxpayer. They have made yet again, a poor decision.

  • Comment Link October 27, 2011 8:43 pm posted by Jacque Wasser

    I think they've made a great choice. Roy is a dedicated officer and will make a fine chief.

  • Comment Link October 28, 2011 8:28 am posted by Ken Strausheim

    Before bashing the Powell Police Dept, you guys might consider taking the Citizens Police Acadamy. Its better to find out the facts first hand and see what a great dept. you have in Powell. Seems so many people cry wolf about the Powell Police Dept, have lost sight that they wouldnt have to cry wolf had they not been doing something illegal....
    By the way, I have the guts to stand up for these guys as well as SIGN MY NAME
    Ken Strausheim
    Cody, Wyoming

  • Comment Link October 28, 2011 8:59 am posted by Don

    And risk bringing someone in who looks all kinds of qualified on paper but is LA trained? I think not. Eckerdt is an excellent choice for chief and brings a strong moral compas to the position. I foresee Powell PD continuing to provide the services this community deserves. If you're dissatisfied with Powell PD, now sounds like the time to bend his ear.

  • Comment Link October 28, 2011 9:17 am posted by Larry L.

    Short term memory.........Roy Eckerdt was found having committed violations in FEDERAL COURT. . violations because of his lack of ability as the Sr SGT.and stop what he knew was going wrong yet he failed to do so...proven in Court not rumored....If I was Alan K. I would be pissed....this is the compass that now guides the department ,,,I doubt this department can make it one year without another major drama.........

  • Comment Link October 28, 2011 9:42 am posted by Larry L.

    Ken, you live in Cody where they have a real PD.

  • Comment Link October 29, 2011 7:22 am posted by Amber Shier

    I have yet to work with Roy Eckerdt, but I look forward to working with him. I have heard only good things from the department that I work for.

  • Comment Link October 29, 2011 9:43 am posted by Kody Koyote

    Congrats Roy. I'm sure you will do a great job! The commmunity and your officers should be proud.

  • Comment Link October 30, 2011 7:34 am posted by Wayne Gullickson

    I live in Cody which I will admit I am proud of but I do own property in Powell. I am very uneasy with this change. But I will give this change a chance and see if it is a wise decision before I join the critics.

  • Comment Link October 31, 2011 6:38 am posted by TB

    One thing for sure,Powell can look ahead for once,instead of watching their backs so much...maybe.Every police dept has some bad apples though,including the one in Cody.

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