Eugene will have a new police chief by the end of the month; here are the finalists

The City of Eugene announced finalists for the job of police chief (from left to right): Chris Skinner, Bruce Marquis and Mike Lester.

EUGENE, Ore. - By the end of the month, the City of Eugene will have a new police chief.

It's down to three finalists: Mike Lester, with 28 years of experience and the current Assistant Police Chief in Vancouver, WA; Bruce Marquis, who has 40 years of experience, including police chief of several cities, and now works for the Department of State, and Chris Skinner, who has 27 years of experience and is the Police Chief in Richland, WA.

They're all vying to bring their skills to the streets of Eugene, with some big issues to tackle head on, including an uptick in hate and bias crimes.

"That's a message that the officers need to make sure that they're getting across to the community, that that's not going to be tolerated," Marquis said.

The new chief will also have a balancing act between the number of officers and the number of calls.

"How do we bring non-sworn members to the department as well to help alleviate those service gaps and take some of those none priority type calls," Lester said.

"At the end of the day our core mission is to be able to handle those calls. We have to be able to do that adequately, we need to be responsive to citizens needs," Skinner said.

Plus, in their short time visiting, the candidates say they already see some other areas of improvement, like dealing with homelessness.

"Cahoots and the community outreach team do a great job but i think looking at that moving forward is how else can we keep dealing with the homelessness issues in the city of Eugene," Lester said.

And making sure officers have time to do more than just respond to crime.

"That's where your connecting with the community. that's when you're in the neighborhoods and in the business districts being able to make and affect change," Skinner said.

And taking a closer look at who actually makes up the police force.

"We need to be more reflective in terms of gender and ethnicity in this police department so we have to take a look at those efforts," Marquis said.

The City is accepting feedback online through Saturday, March 17.

Those ideas will go to the City Manager who will make a decision by March 23.

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