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Watertown police chief could be appointed in May

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A new city police chief should be at the helm of the Watertown Police Department by Memorial Day.

A civil service exam was given for the position March 23. At least two people in the department took it.

Capt. Cheryl A. Clark confirmed that she completed the exam. Interim Capt. Gary R. Comins was also expected to take it because he already had expressed interest in the position. He was out of the office Friday and could not be reached for comment.

Elizabeth U. Morris, the Civil Service Commission’s executive secretary, declined to say how many candidates took the exam, saying it was “a promotional exam” with “only the few who are qualified.” Only four people in the department were eligible to take the exam.

Mrs. Morris also would not identify the candidates who took it.

The candidates’ names remain private because it would be embarrassing if any of them failed it, said Robert J. Freeman, executive director of the state’s Committee on Open Government.

It will take six to eight weeks before the results will be announced. City Manager Sharon A. Addison will make the appointment.

Once the exam results come back from the state, the local Civil Service Commission will review them and pass the information on to the city manager. The soonest that could happen is May 21, Mrs. Morris said.

In July, Mr. Comins was appointed provisionally as police chief and Capt. Clark was promoted from lieutenant.

The moves became necessary when Chief Joseph J. Goss retired in June after a 30-year career.

Chief Comins started his career with the city in June 1985 as a police officer and worked his way up to captain in July 2006. He is a 1974 graduate of Watertown High School and received an associate’s degree in criminal justice in 1977 from Jefferson Community College.

Capt. Clark began her career as an officer in July 1986. In October 2006, she became the first woman to reach the rank of lieutenant on the force. She graduated from LaFargeville Central School, Jefferson Community College and SUNY Canton.

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