PORTLAND — The city narrowed its search for a new police chief to three candidates, including the individual who now holds the position in an interim capacity and one who has more than 30 years in law enforcement across the Fore River.

The finalists in the nationwide search are interim Chief Vern Malloch, South Portland Police Lt. Frank Clark, and David Mara, a former chief in New Hampshire who now advises that state’s governor.

They will be interviewed by city staff, municipal employee union leaders and member of the community over the next few weeks. The input from these sessions will help City Manager Jon Jennings chose the city’s next police chief.

A total of 28 candidates, all male, applied for the position, according to the city. Four applicants were from Maine, while 24 came from 18 other states.

“Because the police chief is such a public facing position that works so closely with the various constituencies in our community, I felt it was important to conduct a competitive search process in conjunction with the public and other members of city staff,” Jennings said in a press release last week. “I’m pleased we were able to attract well-qualified candidates, and I look forward to reviewing each of them further with police personnel, city officials, and community members.”   

Malloch has been Portland assistant police chief since 1984 and the interim police chief since July 2018. He has a degree in law enforcement technology from Southern Maine Community College and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern Maine.

Clark has worked in the South Portland Police Department since 1988. He is the department’s public affairs officer, and has a degree in law enforcement technology from Southern Maine Community College; a bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern Maine, and a leadership certificate from the FBI National Academy. Clark is working on a master’s degree in public policy and management from USM’s Muskie School of Public Service.

Mara retired from the Manchester, New Hampshire, Police Department after almost 30 years. He was the chief there from 2008-2015, and the interim police chief in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, from 2015-2017. He is Gov. John Sununu’s adviser on addiction and behavioral health, and has a bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University and a law degree from the New England School of Law in Boston.

The new chief will replace Michael Sauschuck, who became chief in 2012 and retired last July after more than 20 years in the department. Sauschuck became an assistant city manager, but in December was tapped by Gov. Janet Mills to lead the Maine Department of Public Safety.

Jennings said his goal is to hire the city’s new police chief by the end of the summer.

Michael Kelley can be reached at 780-9106 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @mkelleynews.

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