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Bethel Finds New Police Chief

 Bethel police department
Bethel Police Department
Bethel police department

After almost a year of searching, the City of Bethel has found a new police chief. The candidate, Richard Simmons, and the city have agreed to a conditional offer of employment, but he still needs a background check and confirmation from the city council to finalize the agreement. The council’s decision to increase the police chief position’s salary to $140,000 is said to have been key to attracting a suitable candidate. 

Richard Simmons has not finalized his start date as police chief with the city, but the current acting police chief said that he has indicated that it will be sometime in late July.

Simmons currently serves the Fort Worth Police Department in Texas, where he’s worked for 25 years. He is a lieutenant, and commander of the Forensics and Economic Crimes Section there. Simmons also served in the U.S. Marine Corps as a first sergeant, has a Master's in Criminal Justice Leadership and Management, and graduated from the FBI National Academy. Plus, he has Acting Police Chief Amy Davis’ blessing.

“He seems very personable, and he's involved in a lot of different community things over there in Fort Worth,” Davis said. “I feel comfortable leaving now after, you know, getting to know him.”

Bethel residents will soon get to decide if they agree with Davis, who will be leaving Bethel to serve as a lieutenant in the Fairbanks Police Department starting July 1. Even though she’ll be gone before the new chief is ready to go on duty, she said that she will fly back to Bethel on her days off to help Simmons ramp up. City Manager Vincenzo "Vinny" Corazza said that during the gap, he can serve as acting police chief.

“But administratively,” Corazza said. “You know, I'm just gonna be signing in timesheets and that kind of stuff.”

On May 6, the city council increased the budget for the police chief's salary to $140,000 from $114,000. Both Davis and Corazza said that was essential to attracting a quality candidate like Simmons.

Simmons is scheduled to be in Bethel June 8 for a "meet and greet" with the public.


Greg Kim is a news reporter for KYUK covering environment, health, education, public safety, culture and subsistence. He's covered everything from Newtok's relocation due to climate change-fueled erosion to the Bethel chicken massacre of 2020.