Torgerson a finalist for Walla Walla post

Aberdeen Police Chief Bob Torgerson is one of three finalists for the police chief position for the city of Walla Walla.

According to the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, Torgerson is a finalist alongside Scott Bieber, a commander with the Vancouver, Wash., Police Department, and Greg Anderson, a police captain with the Salt River Police Department in Arizona.

The Human Resources division of the city of Walla Walla confirmed Torgerson was a finalist on Wednesday. The current Walla Walla police chief plans to retire in March and the city hopes to fill the position by then.

Torgerson is out of the office until next week, according to his voice mail message at his Aberdeen office. A message was also left on his cell phone.

Torgerson was hired in April of 2004, his first post as chief of police. Torgerson had retired as the captain of support services for the Muscatine, Iowa, Police Department. Before coming to Aberdeen, he had 30 years in law enforcement, including time as a security police officer with the Air Force.

He’s served on boards for the Domestic Violence Center of Grays Harbor, Rebuilding Together, the Coastal Community Action Program and many other community groups.

Although the chief has accomplished some laudable goals for the City of Aberdeen, including helping in emergency management and tsunami preparedness, some members of the Aberdeen Police Guild have not been happy with him. In 2008, the union approved a “No Confidence” vote in Torgerson and during the contested mayoral election last year, it came out that the union was still not pleased with the direction of the police department.

John Smith, who serves as chairman of the Aberdeen Public Safety Committee, said he was not aware Torgerson was seeking employment elsewhere.

“I know there’s been controversy but I think he’s done a decent job and it’s always hard to replace someone,” Smith said.

Smith said that if Torgerson doesn’t get the job, it shows Torgerson has some good qualifications since he’s become one of the finalists for the Walla Walla post. Smith said he’s been particularly impressed with the volunteer work Torgerson did restoring an old totem pole last year and his work developing a “yellow brick road” for pedestrian tsunami evacuations, which has been adopted as a worldwide standard.

Aberdeen Mayor Bill Simpson didn’t return a message seeking comment.