City starts police force by hiring part-time chief

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MIDDLETON, Idaho (AP) — The southwest Idaho city of Middleton has taken the first step toward creating its own police department by appointing a part-time police chief.

The City Council on Wednesday appointed Brian Zimmerman, who retired from the Idaho State Police as a captain in July 2012 after 27 years with the agency.

"I know what a small town wants in law enforcement," said Zimmerman, who lives in the city. "I have a vested interest in Middleton, and I want this to be done right."

Zimmerman's salary is $40,000 annually for up to 20 hours a week. He said the part-time hours mean the job won't conflict with his state retirement.

The city last month decided to end its law enforcement contract for enhanced services with the Canyon County Sheriff's Office and create a police department, estimating it will save more than $200,000 over four years.

"I'm very excited and pleased about the future here in Middleton," said Mayor Darin Taylor.

Canyon County Sheriff Kieran Donahue has said the city's plan is a bad decision, and that city leaders don't appreciate that the sheriff's office has been providing services to the city similar to a community police department, including enhanced traffic enforcement.

Taylor said the next step is to buy two police vehicles and hire a full-time patrol officer. Taylor said the vehicles are expected to cost between $12,000 and $14,000.

He said there were 13 candidates for the police chief job, and that Zimmerman's experience with small-town law enforcement and managing police officers made him the right choice.

"He's been involved in all aspects of law enforcement," Taylor said.

He also said the city will be able to afford a second position because of the benefits Zimmerman receives as a retired ISP officer.

City Council President Lenny Riccio asked the only questions of Zimmerman, including Zimmerman's thoughts about police being recorded as they did their jobs.

"There shouldn't be any issues with being recorded," Zimmerman said. "We should keep ourselves at a standard where it doesn't matter if we're recorded."

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