Springdale makes its choice for police chief

Liz Hayes
| Thursday, May 16, 2013, 1:46 a.m.

Springdale Council on Wednesday agreed to offer the job of police chief to a man currently leading a small department in South Dakota.

Julio F. Medeiros III, 47, has been the chief of the Martin police force in south central South Dakota since 2011. If employment negotiations are successful, Medeiros should join Springdale's department this summer.

Council offered Medeiros the job pending his completion of a background check, physical and psychological testing and acquisition of his certifications in Pennsylvania.

Council did not establish a salary; it plans to negotiate the terms of a contract with Medeiros.

Councilman Mike Ziencik led the search to replace current Chief Joe Naviglia, who is scheduled to retire at the end of the month after 25 years with the borough.

Ziencik said with the assistance of a consultant, the borough received 53 applications for the position and interviewed five finalists last week.

Ziencik and council President David Finley said there were several qualified candidates, but Medeiros stood out.

“He was off the charts,” Finley said. “He was very qualified.”

Medeiros, who has bachelor's and master's degrees in administration of justice, spent 23 years with the police department of Smithfield, R.I. The Providence suburb of 25,000 had a department with 53 full-time officers plus part-time officers and auxiliary employees, Medeiros said.

He said he was part of a wave of officers statewide who retired amid problems with the state's pension plan. He retired as a shift commander at 43 in 2010 and briefly took a job leading a small department in Nebraska before moving to Martin, S.D.

He called South Dakota a second home after spending time there hunting.

Medeiros said Martin's city administration changed in a recent election and he decided to consider jobs elsewhere. An avid hunter who has spent time in Pennsylvania and has family in the northwest part of the state, Medeiros said the Springdale job appealed to him.

He said his first priority on the job will be to get a feel for the community.

“I want to get to know my employees, I want to get to know my elected officials, and I want to get to know the community and the business owners we're going to serve,” he said.

Ziencik said one of factors that impressed him about Medeiros was that he walked around Springdale during his two visits during the interview process.

“I really think the community will like him,” Ziencik said. “He's very well-rounded.”

Medeiros said his Martin Police Department is of similar size to Springdale's: Martin has five full-time officers and three part-timers, compared to Springdale's four full-time officers (including the chief) and four to eight part-timers. Martin's population is about 2,000 people compared to Springdale's 3,400 people.

However, Medeiros said Martin is much more rural than Springdale.

“Law enforcement out here is so sparse,” he said. “The nearest police department to me is almost 100 miles away.”

Although Smithfield is much larger than Springdale, Medeiros said it had similarities to the borough in terms of being a suburban environment.

Medeiros said he hopes to move to Springdale by July with his fiancée, Kathy, and stepson, Dean.

Council approved Medeiros' hiring in a 5-1-1 vote with Councilman Gene Polsinelli objecting and Frank Forbes abstaining.

Polsinelli said he would have preferred to go with a local candidate.

“I thought we should have somebody from the area that knows the people and the town,” said Polsinelli, a former borough officer. “(Medeiros) is qualified, for sure. But I thought we had qualified people who were local, too.”

Forbes said he wanted more written information on the candidates from the search committee before making a decision. He also thought the candidates should have been required to get a background check before they chose someone.

“I felt there were questions left unanswered,” he said. “All the candidates had impressive resumes. I'm not saying he's not qualified. He's a great guy to talk to in person. I would have liked to have had a better handle on who they were before we made a decision.”

Coincidentally, Medeiros interacted with Pennsylvania law enforcement last month when his South Dakota department happened to intercept a missing 13-year-old girl from Clarion and assisted in arresting the man accused of kidnapping her.

“It's a small world,” he said.

Liz Hayes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4680 or lhayes@tribweb.com.

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