Applicant bios released for Fort Smith’s top three open slots, city boss hopes to fill jobs by early October

by Aric Mitchell ([email protected]) 292 views 

A former Fayetteville police chief and candidates from Chicago, New Mexico and Texas are among finalists for the open Fort Smith police chief job, and utility director candidate finalists are from Minnesota, Texas and Puerto Rico.

Fort Smith City Administrator Carl Geffken announced the 13 finalists for chief of police, utilities director and human resources director on Tuesday (Aug. 9). Now attention turns toward forming interview committees for each of the positions, though the final hiring decisions will be made by Geffken.

Geffken is aiming to have all three positions filled by early October. Today Talk Business & Politics was able to obtain biographical information for each of the finalists. Details on each have been included below along with some background on the position vacancies.

Fort Smith Police Chief Kevin Lindsey stepped down in March after a racially charged remark was overheard and reported to IT Department Head Russell Gibson.

Lindsey faced frustration over the low representation of minorities in his department. To date, the department has not promoted a black officer since 1988 and has not hired a black officer since 1995. In an early December interview, Lindsey said the department should have a percentage much closer to the 9%, which is the percentage of blacks in the city of Fort Smith population. Wendall Sampson Jr. — the city’s lone black officer — has filed a lawsuit alleging discrimination in employment and promotion. Sampson was hired by the department on Sept. 25, 1995, and is only the 10th black officer hired by the department in its history.

According to various sources close to the situation, Lindsey said the only way more minorities would be part of the police force would be for white officers “to wear black face.”

The city used Strategic Government Resources (SGR) out of Dallas to source candidates for chief of police and received 33 applications in all. The six finalist candidates announced for his position are as follows.

Nathaniel Clark
Clark is a graduate of the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff (UAPB). He served as Pine Bluff Police Chief and left after 20 years with the department for a position with the U.S. Department of Treasury. Since 2012, he served as the Deputy Chief of the Investigations Bureau in Albany, Ga. His employment history ends in March 2016.

Mark Hallum
Hallum has worked for the Fort Smith Police Department since 1991 in a number of capacities. He started as a patrol officer and has risen through the ranks as a Sergeant, Captain, and Major. He serves as major-criminal investigation division commander, a position he has held since 2009.

Frank Johnson
Johnson has more than 25 years in law enforcement, all of which he spent with the Fayetteville Police Department where he served as Chief from 2004-2006. He was also an adjunct professor in the department of sociology and criminal justice at the University of Arkansas from 1993-2006. Since 2006, he has worked for Walmart Stores in a number of roles. His current job title is senior director of the company’s Global Investigations Training Academy.

Philip Kwasinski
Kwasinski has been a part of the Chicago Police Department since 1986. He has served in six roles, starting as a patrol officer and advancing to patrol sergeant in 1996. He serves as executive officer/captain. He attained his master’s degree in criminal/social justice from Lewis University in Romeoville, Ill.

Jeff Matthews
Matthews is a Sam Houston State University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in law enforcement police science. He has worked as a police officer for 31 years in numerous capacities, starting as an officer in field operations in 1985 and progressing through the ranks to achieve deputy police chief status with the Arlington Police Department in Texas in 2012.

Keith McPheeters
McPheeters is the deputy chief of police with the Farmington Police Department in New Mexico. He has been with the department for 25 years. His education credentials include Northwestern University, the FBI National Academy, and Excelsior College. He holds a bachelor’ss degree in criminal justice and a number of other law enforcement certifications.

Former Fort Smith Human Resources Director Richard Jones left his post for another position last September after 14 years with the city. Jones’ resignation was part of a wave of high-profile vacancies in city government that began with the abrupt resignation of former City Administrator Ray Gosack in July 2015.

In the search for candidates, SGR received the most applications for this position (39). Bios on the final four are as follows.

Evan Breedlove
Breedlove is the executive director of the Good Samaritan Clinic in Fort Smith. He has served in the role since 2010. Before that, he was the human resources director for Tamko Building Products in Joplin, Mo. His HR career began in Fort Smith at Riverside Furniture, a position he held for 28 years. Breedlove earned his masters degree in business administration from the University of Arkansas.

Don Jenkins
Jenkins works in Modesto, Ca., as the senior consultant and HR advisor for HR Professional Resources, LLC. It’s a role he has filled since 2014. He got his start in Mountainburg, Ark., as a labor and employment attorney. He graduated from the University of Arkansas School of Law in 1994.

Jim Lowery
Lowery lives and works in Jefferson City, Mo., as the human resources director for Cole County Residential Services, Inc. He got his start in HR as the director of the Marshall Habilitation Center of the Missouri Department of Mental Health. He graduated with a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Missouri in Columbia.

Naomi Roundtree
Roundtree is the human resources manager of American SportWorks, a manufacturing and fabrication company in Roseland, La. Her first position in HR was at OPTIONS, Inc., in Hammond, La., in 2002. A U.S. Army veteran, Roundtree graduated from Arizona State University in 2017 with a master’s degree in legal studies.

Former Utilities Director Steve Parke retired on April 1 after several decades with the city. As the utilities director, Parke came under heavy scrutiny from the Fort Smith Board of Directors for his handling of the $480 million consent decree between the city and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Justice.

The job is now being handled by Bob Roddy of Burns & McDonnell until the city can find a suitable replacement. SGR received the least amount of applications for this post (10). Only three finalists were named on Tuesday. Their bios are as follows.

Carol Blommel Johnson
Johnson has been the public works superintendent of utilities for Apple Valley, Minn., since 1987. She earned her master’s degree in public administration in 2010 and holds two specialty licenses — Class A Water Operators and Class SA Collection System Operators.

Francisco Martinez
Martinez works for Puerto Rico’s Aqueduct and Sewer Authority, where he has served as vice president of operations since 2013. He was a machinist mate for the U.S. Navy from 1987 to 1993, where he was involved in power plant operations. He has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Puerto Rico and a master’s in management from Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico.

David Terrill
Terrill graduated in 1980 with a bachelors degree in civil engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington, where he would also earn his master’s degree seven years later. From 2004 to 2015, he was the manager of development engineering with the Trinity River Authority.