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One of four candidates for TPD chief drops out

One of the shortlisted candidates to be the next chief of the Tucson Police Department has withdrawn his name from consideration. Larry Esquivel, who's resigning as head of the San Jose, Calif., police department in January, has pulled out of the Tucson interview process.

Esquivel didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on why he withdrew his name.  City officials pulled his name from the schedule of interviews set for Thursday, saying he had dropped out.

Like Esquivel, the remaining three finalists to become Tucson's next chief of police are all from outside Arizona, and include law enforcement officials from Texas, California, and Florida. None of the local candidates who applied for the job were on the short list picked by City Manager Michael Ortega.

The chief of the Tucson Police Department, Roberto Villaseñor, is set to retire in December after six years in the post and 35 years with the department.

Those who will be interviewed Thursday to replace him are:

Malik Aziz, deputy chief of the Dallas Police Department, where he's been on the force for 23 years. He is the chairman of the National Black Police Association.

Rick S. Gregory, vice president of the Institute for Intergovernmental Research in Tallahassee, Fla., which provides training in law enforcement and criminal justice. He served as police chief in Provo, Utah, with other law enforcement posts in Delaware and for the Florida Highway Patrol for more than two decades.

Christopher J. Magnus, chief of police in Richmond, Calif. He was previously police chief in Fargo, N.D., and on the force in Lansing, Mich. His time in Richmond was marred by a 2012 trial in which officers alleged racial discrimination, but he and the department were cleared by a jury. Magnus was knocked by the police union for his appearance at a 2014 Black Lives Matter demonstration. A former officer who was fired because of domestic violence and firearms-related violations sued Magnus earlier this year, claiming that the openly gay chief, who is married, sexually harassed him. Magnus has vigorously denied the allegations; the suit is working its way through the courts.

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All of the finalists are men. Aziz was a finalist to be the next police chief in San Antonio, as was Villaseñor.

Instead, the city manger of San Antonio chose the former chief of the Texas city, rather than any of the announced finalists.

The candidate who dropped out, Larry B. Esquivel, is the chief of police of San Jose Police Department, and is set to retire from that job at beginning of next year. He's been with that department since 1984, beginning with two years as a reserve officer, but his 2.5-year tenure at the top of the department was marked with struggles with the police union over pay and benefits. Earlier this year, Esquivel tackled a murder suspect when he saw the man running down the street in handcuffs after he'd slipped out of police holding cell.

Tucson contracted with the Police Executive Research Forum to screen applications. That consulting firm provided Ortega with a list of 60 "credible applicants," a city news release said last week.

The names of those applicants were not released by the city.

The finalists will be interviewed in a public meeting Thursday, beginning at 8 a.m., by the 15-member City Police Chief Appointment Advisory Committee. Private interviews will be held with representatives of the Tucson Police Officers Association union, executive leaders at City Hall, and high-ranking TPD officials.

"I look forward to receiving input from both internal and external stakeholder groups as we move toward the selection for this important position. I am confident we will find a chief committed to applying the principles of community policing to deliver a high level of services to residents," the city manager said.

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Esquivel