Who will be Lexington's next top cop?

Top row, from left: Mark Banard, Michael Bosse and Ronald Compton.
Bottom row, from left: Dwayne Homan, Kevin Sutton and Lawrence Weathers.
Top row, from left: Mark Banard, Michael Bosse and Ronald Compton. Bottom row, from left: Dwayne Homan, Kevin Sutton and Lawrence Weathers. Photos provided

A day after Lexington Police Chief Ronnie Bastin was named the city's new public safety commissioner, focus shifted to who will become Lexington's new top cop.

A committee appointed by Mayor Jim Gray to find a new chief has not met yet, and no official candidates for the job have been publicly identified. But about half a dozen candidates inside and outside the department are likely to be at the top of the list.

Vice Mayor Linda Gorton said whoever takes over Lexington's police department will inherit a very well-run department.

"I think that's a tribute to Ronnie Bastin, Anthany Beatty and the previous chiefs," Gorton said.

Gorton said that in the 16 years she has been on the council, the city has hired only internal candidates for the position. That doesn't mean the city wouldn't consider an outside candidate.

"It will need to be somebody that is experienced and can handle a police division of this size," Gorton said. "Internal candidates tend to have an advantage because they already know the internal processes and operations."

Gorton said several high-ranking Lexington police officers have left the department to lead police departments in other cities.

"I think there will be a fair number of candidates," Gorton said.

When Bastin became chief in 2008, he created the position of commander, which replaced the major and captain ranks as he restructured the division in an effort to streamline communications.

The department, which has more than 550 sworn officers, is largely managed by Bastin and his four appointed assistant chiefs.

Three of them — Chief Ronald Compton of the Bureau of Administration, Chief Mark Barnard of Bureau of Investigation, and Chief Dwayne Holman of Bureau of Patrol — could not be reached for comment Wednesday on their potential interest in the top job.

The fourth, Chief Lawrence Weathers of the Bureau of Special Operations, told the Herald-Leader that he has thought about applying, but it's not a decision he could make without talking to his family. Weathers said he has been an assistant chief for less than a year and is extremely happy in his current position.

Also, two former Lexington police officers who are now chiefs in nearby cities also could be candidates.

Paris Police Chief Kevin Sutton and Georgetown Police Chief Michael Bosse both applied for the chief's position when Anthany Beatty retired in 2007. The job went to Bastin.

Bosse did not return calls from the Herald-Leader on Wednesday afternoon.

Sutton said he hasn't decided whether he'll apply. Sutton retired from the Lexington police in 2009 after 31 years. He has been Paris police chief since 2010.

"I have not made a decision yet," Sutton said. "I am very happy in Paris."

On Wednesday, the consensus among some of the committee members was that the new chief should build on what Bastin has done. Bastin will retire from the department in January before he takes his new job as commissioner, a position that oversees police, fire and other public-safety functions.

Jason Rothermund, a Lexington detective and president of the Fraternal Order of Police Bluegrass Lodge No. 4, thanked Bastin for his service to the community. As for the search for a new chief, he said the FOP is "interested in finding the most qualified candidate, whether it's an internal or outside candidate," he said.

Search committee member Debbie Long, owner of Dudley's on Short Street, said applications from interested candidates will be accepted until Dec. 10, and the committee is likely to meet Dec. 15 or Dec. 16. But any candidate should be a person who has experience and knows the community, she said.

"It's like any job that people are going to apply for in a position that's highly regarded," Long said. "They're going to have great integrity and have a lot of respect for those who have worked with them and for them, and are willing to take on the responsibilities of that job."