Digging deeper: Port Arthur police chief finalists

12News has already learned a lot about the candidates, including why one resigned while on administrative leave.

Wednesday night, Port Arthur residents will get the opportunity to meet the four men in the running to become the city's next police chief, but 12News has already learned a lot about the candidates, including why one resigned while on administrative leave.

"We had lots of great candidates with lots of great credentials and lots of great experience, so it's been a tough job," said Brian McDougal, Port Arthur city manager.

Narrowing 46 applicants down to four finalists, Port Arthur leaders already tackled one challenge. But their next step is the most important, according to McDougal: one-on-one meetings with each candidate.

The four finalists have stories that stretch across Texas to as far away as Arizona - Salt River, to be exact. That's where Patrick Melvin last served as police chief, a position from which he resigned while on administrative leave.

"The speculation was that he'd had a wandering eye for a long time for other jobs and he'd been applying to several other big city positions," said Brian Wright, a former reporter in the area. "Speculation was he was applying for these jobs and even interviewing for some of these jobs while he was on the clock with Salt River."
Wright admitted some surprise upon hearing that Melvin applied in a smaller community such as Port Arthur.
"It seemed like he had his eye on big cities," Wright said.
That's far from how reporters described Jeff Fant, another finalist, who was San Angelo's former assistant chief of police.
"I thoroughly enjoyed working with Jeff," said KIDY reporter Senora Scott. "He's always been very easy to work with and very upfront with information. He really tries to be as involved with the community."
Beginning with the department in 1992, Fant worked his way through the ranks. He became assistant chief in 2009, but then retired in July 2016.
"He did express interest in going somewhere else and using his leadership skills elsewhere," Scott said. "Whoever hires him is bound to have a good leader in Jeff Fant." 
Good leadership is what Jesus Campa said he would bring to the position. Campa, the only candidate to respond to 12News' interview request, got his start decades ago in the El Paso County Sheriff's Office. Two years ago, he accepted the chief job in Marshall.
One of the issues I was faced with when I got to Marshall was that the community had lack of trust in the police department," said Campa. "We've totally changed that around in two years. We have a great relationship with both the private and public sector."
Now, Campa said, he hopes to use that experience in Port Arthur.
"Sometimes it's good to bring someone from the outside with a fresh pair of eyes to change the status quo," he said.
Arthur Barclay is the final candidate. He is currently a deputy chief for Fort Worth Police, the department he's served since 1986.
Port Arthur leaders are now faced with the task of deciding which of the four candidates should become the city's next chief.
"We have great officers with great ideas. We just need to find somebody to direct that," said McDougal.
The city's public meet and greet is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Department Club on Lakeshore Drive. McDougal wants as many residents as possible to meet the candidates, then provide feedback about whom should be selected.

(© 2016 KBMT)


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