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New Pima College top cop picked after 3 years of rotating chiefs

After three years without a permanent top cop, Pima Community College has tapped an officer from Georgia to head the school's law enforcement staff of 75. The department had been run by temporary chiefs since the sudden resignation of Stella Bay in June 2013.

Although Christopher Albers was among three finalists for the post announced in February 2016, he was not named as the new chief until Thursday.

Albers, who has 20 years of campus law enforcement experience, will take over at PCC on Aug. 22. He as been the senior police officer at Georgia Piedmont Technical College in Clarkston, Ga., having worked at the school since June 2010.

Prior to that, Albers was the chief of police at Georgia Perimeter College for nearly five years, and a deputy chief at Biola University, a Christian college in La Mirada, Calif., near Los Angeles.

At Pima, he will oversee the 75 officers, dispatchers and support staff of the college's police department, reporting to Bill Ward, the vice chancellor of Facilities & College Police. Albers will be paid $105,553 annually.

The delay in making the hiring decision happened because "another candidate was also under consideration, but withdrew," college spokeswoman Libby Howell said. "Plus the background checks for law enforcement take forever."

According to a PCC news release, "Albers has demonstrated the ability to develop and implement community centered programs such as RAD (Rape Aggression Defense), community safety forums, and a Community Policing Program in association with Student Affairs, to increase awareness of crime and strengthen communications between stakeholders."

The Pima post has been filled by a succession of chiefs since Bay resigned more than three years ago. She had headed the department for seven years.

Manny Amado had been named as the interim chief as Bay left, working in that capacity for nine months. He was then named as the chief at the end of March 2014, serving through June 2015. Michelle Nieuwenhuis then served as the interim chief until Albers was named. PCC's Howell quibbled with an earlier version of this report, which characterized Amado's appointment as "interim" without also noting his 15-month stretch as a regular hire.

Her leaving move followed complaints about her leadership from members of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the union representing campus officers.

"The majority of PCC officers have no faith in Chief Bay," said a June 2013 letter to the college from Matthew Cline, executive director of AFSCME Local 449.

Cline wrote that Bay was responsible for an "increasingly hostile work environment."

Correction: An earlier version of this story dropped a digit from Abler’s salary due to an editing error.

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Incoming PCC Police Chief Christopher Albers