At the time when Janet Thiessen was chosen as the Tracy police chief, Churchill said he was not in tune with the community’s wants and needs. Having only been city manager for six months, he said he needed more input to make his decision. So he hired a formal search committee and consulting firm to conduct a nationwide search.
This time, Churchill said he only sought out local input from various groups, such as the City Council and police officers association.
And time and time again, Gary Hampton’s name appeared on the lists of favorable candidates.
“I didn’t think it was good timing to go through the process,” Churchill said Monday morning. “He was on my short list.”
Although a formal search process would have cost the city about $35,000, Churchill said it wasn’t the money that deterred him from going that route. He agreed it was a fitting process to fill a high-profile public official position, but he said his current knowledge of the community made it unnecessary.
Calling Hampton on the phone, Churchill and the then-Turlock police chief agreed to meet and talk about terms. After a four-hour dinner meeting, Chuchill said the two-week search was over. Churchill said they came to a formal agreement June 24.
“It was the fastest executive search in California,” he said.
Aware of Hampton’s successful track record as police chief in Oakdale and Turlock, Churchill said he is a more than a qualified candidate. He also noted that Hampton, as a captain, had a local reputation and that he was responsible for setting up the modernization of the Tracy Police Department before his departure.
“The results were staring me in the face,” Churchill said. “He cut his teeth here in Tracy. This is his baby. Any search for a police chief, he would be on a short list.”
When it came to Hampton’s work ethic and philosophy, Churchill said he was an obvious choice. He said he liked the way Hampton handled specific issues, such as internal discipline, community policing, working with the community and innovative daily management.
Churchill said his skills are a perfect match for Tracy.
“His track record is very consistent,” Churchill said. “He has a lot of ties in Tracy … everything he’s touched is jubilant (about his return). I don’t see how a whole community can be wrong.”
In terms of transition, Hampton will have a year to get his affairs in order and relocate permanently to the city of Tracy. Churchill said the city will provide him with a modest allowance to relocate, but he did not give the dollar amount.
The City Council is expected to vote in favor of Hampton’s appointment at its Aug. 2 meeting and formally swear him in Aug. 16. Both meetings will be in the council chambers of City Hall at 7 p.m.