Magnus emerges as favorite for Tucson police chief position

Chief Chris Magnus

Police Chief Chris Magnus may be leaving the Richmond Police Department (File photo by Robert Rogers)

Richmond Police Chief Chris Magnus appears to be the top choice to become police chief in Tucson, Arizona, after a search committee voted to recommend him as the best fit for the job.

Representatives of a citizen’s panel in the Arizona city interviewed finalists on Thursday, voting 11 to 2 for Magnus over two other top contenders. Tucson city government department heads, police union and city manager will weigh in next, before the selection process goes to Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild and the City Council.

“We’re hoping to have a decision made by the end of November,” the Tucson police spokesperson, Lane Mandle, said Friday.

The opening arose when Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villaseñor decided to retire at the end of this year. Should Magnus take the position, he would be leading a department that is three times the size of the Richmond PD.

The Tucson Citizen Police Chief Appointment Advisory Committee settled on Magnus after a lengthy discussion. A panel of committee members interviewed Magnus on Thursday along with the two other finalists for more than five hours.

None of the finalists was from Tucson or had worked previously for the Tucson police, a source of disappointment for several committee members. According to the Arizona Daily Star, one member even expressed a wish to conduct a new search for a local candidate.

But in the end, Magnus emerged as the favorite of a clear majority. The two dissenting votes went to Dallas Police Deputy Malik Aziz.

Sixty candidates had originally been in the running. The evaluation process has been ongoing for some time, and included a visit to Richmond by Tucson representatives to view Magnus in action.

Members of the Richmond police have been watching with interest, voicing support for Magnus while sounding convinced his time in Richmond is nearing an end.

“We’re not surprised at all,” said Capt. Mark Gagan. “He has vision and talent that he’s demonstrated here … We are so fortunate to have the opportunity to work with Magnus for the last decade.”

Magnus had announced his position as a finalist to his team only two weeks ago, and so far the news has not prompted any personnel adjustments within the department, Gagan said. Although there are still several months before his potential departure, Gagan pointed out that Deputy Chief Allwyn Brown—who has worked with Magnus for the majority of his tenure—is “more than capable” to lead the team.

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