The city of Gahanna on July 13 announced three candidates are under consideration to become its next chief of police.

The finalists are Chris Little, retired captain of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department; Jeff Scott, police chief of Notre Dame College in Euclid; and Jeff Spence, Gahanna's interim police chief and deputy chief.

The city received 43 applications, 30 of which came from within Ohio, according to Niel Jurist, Gahanna's pubic-information manager.

She said two rounds of interviews have been held.

"Although we received a number of great candidates, I am extremely impressed with the three finalists for our next chief of police," said Mark Thomas, public-safety director. "Combined, these individuals possess more than 70 years of law-enforcement experience."

He said each of the finalists brings a wealth of law-enforcement expertise and community-policing experience to the table.

"As a police department, we are committed to strengthening our relationship with our community, and believe that our next chief of police must have strong leadership abilities to help guide the Gahanna Division of Police well into the future," Thomas said.

Little has a bachelor's degree in criminal-justice administration from the University of Phoenix.

He completed the Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command program in 2013 and the FBI National Academy in 2017.

He also earned the Nevada Peace Officer Standards and Training -- Intermediate, Advanced, Management and Executive Certificate.

Scott has a bachelor's degree in public-safety management and a master's degree in business administration from Franklin University.

He completed the FBI National Academy in 2016, became a Certified Law Enforcement Executive in 2013 and completed the Ohio Association Chiefs of Police Inc. Police Executive leadership college in 2011.

Spence completed Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command, Executive Police Leadership and Management Program, in 2006 and became a Certified Law Enforcement Executive in 2018. He is pursuing a bachelor's degree in public administration from Franklin University.

Thomas was scheduled to receive input July 16 from four groups who will interview the three finalists to help make the final hiring decision.

Abby Cochran, Gahanna's human-resources director, said the groups selected to interview the candidates represent the diverse community of Gahanna.

They include members of area commissions and the homeowners' association; community leaders, including fire chiefs, members of the Gahanna Ministerial Association, the school superintendent, police officers and personnel; and city staff and leadership.

"The concept of having community input on the chief-of-police selection process was initially written in the Civil Service Rules and Regulations, and while it is no longer a classified position, we believed it was still an important component of the process," Cochran said. "We recognize how fortunate we are to have a strong relationship between our community and the police, and want to continue our efforts in building that relationship.

"Engaging members of the community with our final candidates is a way for us to continue to strengthen that connection," she said.

As director of public safety, Thomas is the hiring authority for the police chief.

He anticipates making a decision soon, Jurist said.

Dennis Murphy retired from the Gahanna police force Jan. 19 with 21 years of service, making him the longest-serving police chief in the city.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla