SANDPOINT — City Council members approved Lt. Corey Coon at the interim police chief for the Sandpoint Police Department Wednesday.
Members said they made the decision based on Coon’s combination of experience, leadership and human resource skills, a positive reputation and community-oriented law enforcement philosophy. A veteran of the local police force for almost 15 years, he has served at all levels of the public service from street patrol to his current position as lieutenant.
“I’m really excited to be here, and work with the council and community members,” Coon said.
Replacing retired police chief Mark Lockwood, Coon will serve in the position for the interim. Based on this review period, city officials can choose to instate him as the full-time police chief or initiate a wider search for more candidates.
Coon carried the endorsement of several current police department officers, including Det. Robert Dressel, who voiced his support for the appointment. Dressel said Coon had grown tremendously as a law enforcement officer throughout their nearly 15-year professional relationship.
“He can say when he’s wrong, he can say he’s sorry and I think we need that in a chief,” Dressel said.
Council members were particularly impressed with Coon’s commitment to community-oriented law enforcement. In his consideration of candidates for the position, Councilman Shelby Rognstad said he was looking for a policing philosophy that shaped around local considerations, adding that the police force could use an improvement in public perception..
“I’m interested in developing a level of police service specific to what the community’s needs are,” he said.
After a personal interview with Coon, Rognstad was impressed with his endorsement of officer discretion and thorough training. Councilman Aaron Qualls held a similar meeting with Coon and walked away with the same conclusions.
Coon moved to Sandpoint after obtaining an associate’s degree in criminal justice. As he worked with the department, he continued his education, advancing to a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. While Coon said that the department faced difficulties with staffing and equipment given the city’s budgetary woes, he moved into the new position with a spirit of optimism.
“I think this is an opportunity for us to grow,” he said.