Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Hailey names new police chief

Gunter assumes post after 15 years on force

Express Staff Writer

Jeff Gunter, pictured here during his days as a lieutenant, was appointed chief of police by Hailey Mayor Susan McBryant on Monday, Oct. 22. Gunter has been acting as interim chief since Brian McNary retired in June. Photo by Mountain Express

After 15 years with the Hailey Police Department, Jeff Gunter was appointed as the new Hailey chief of police by Mayor Susan McBryant on Monday, Oct. 22.

Gunter, who's held the rank of lieutenant since 2000, had been serving as interim chief since former Police Chief Brian McNary retired June.

McBryant, who announced in July that she wouldn't be running for re-election, originally said that she would wait for her successor to name a new chief, but announced to the City Council Monday that she had changed her mind.

"I was only waiting as a courtesy, but realized that this was not in the best interest of the city due to the time the process would take," McBryant said Tuesday, adding that the council also has the tough task of finding a new city administrator.

McBryant said that during his time as interim chief, Gunter proved himself to be the obvious candidate, enacting a number of new policies. These included making his department more interactive with other city departments, increasing patrols in the early morning and later in the day, and implementing training sessions for his officers with the county prosecuting attorney.

"He was not the obvious choice, but he surprised me at every turn," McBryant said. "He's made changes desired by both myself and the council."

Like McBryant, Gunter said he never thought he was a shoe-in for the position.

"If you don't expect it, you can never be disappointed," Gunter said Tuesday. "This is very humbling and I'm really excited about it."

Gunter said that while he wasn't ready to divulge any plans for the future of the department, he's grateful to be taking charge of it at this time.

"Brian (McNary) left the department in good shape," Gunter said. "The experience level is increasing and the turnover is minimal. These are some huge footsteps to follow."

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