Jeff Spence no longer is Gahanna's 'interim' police chief.

Jeff Spence no longer is Gahanna's 'interim' police chief.

His selection as full-time police chief was made July 23 during a Gahanna City Council committee meeting.

His new role was effective July 24.

Spence has served as interim chief since January, when the former chief, Dennis Murphy, retired from the force.

The city received 43 applications for the position, according to Niel Jurist, Gahanna's public-information manager.

"It was an honor and an intense learning experience to participate in the chief's selection process with such talented law enforcement professionals," Spence said.

"Through the interview panel process, it was clear that our residents and stakeholders expect a partnership with their police department. Their concerns are our concerns, and as one we will move the Gahanna Division of Police forward," he said.

He said he's excited about the many opportunities he and the department will have to make Gahanna the best in every respect.

Spence's annual salary will be $126,562, with $48,406 in benefits, for a total annual package of $174,968, according to Jurist.

Spence's annual salary and benefits as deputy chief salary was $168,008.

As interim chief, Spence has continued to engage the community through Coffee with a Cop, coordinating the city's Joint Citizens Police Academy with New Albany and National Night Out, and taking part in monthly civic-association meetings, Jurist said.

Spence began his career with the Gahanna Division of Police as an officer in 1992 then was promoted to sergeant in 2000.

In 2002, he was promoted to lieutenant.

During his tenure, Spence has overseen both the detectives' bureau and administrative bureau.

He completed the 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.

Although the police-chief position no longer is a classified position, Jurist said, the city administration decided to engage the community in the final round of candidate interviews that included Chris Little, retired captain of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, and Jeff Scott, police chief of Notre Dame College in Euclid.

Those who helped interview the candidates were members of area commissions and homeowners' associations, members of the Gahanna Ministerial Association, fire chiefs, police officers and personnel, city staff and school leaders.

Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools Superintendent Steve Barrett said the interview process was transparent and collaborative.

"I was on the interviewing team with the city leaders," he said. "We were availed the opportunity to submit questions for the interview process.

"I am very happy for Jeff Spence who has worked tirelessly as the interim chief," he said.

Barrett said Spence cares deeply about the schools and the community.

"Jeff is smart, collaborative and compassionate. He has supported our schools in extraordinary ways," Barrett said

He said Gahanna Mayor Tom Kneeland and his team did a great job of creating a thorough and engaging process.

Cathy Gordon, a community representative from the Woodmere neighborhood civic association, said she led a panel of six during the engagement process.

"I thought the whole process was very well organized," she said. "It gave us an opportunity to interview Jeff Spence."

She said he was a familiar face, because he attends monthly civic association meetings.

"I was impressed how he ran the meetings," she said. "I also got to know who he is through the (Gahanna/New Albany) Citizen Police Academy.

"I think he will do a great job. He knows the city. The panel agreed he has so much compassion. You can tell he really loves Gahanna. It came across."

The search for a new deputy chief is slated to begin next week, according to Jurist.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla