Prescott Valley will have to wait a little longer for a new police chief.
Keith Lane, police chief since 2009 in Haltom City, Texas, accepted Prescott Valley's employment offer in mid-September. But he has decided to stay in Texas after receiving what he called an "overwhelming response" to his departure announcement.
Lane was the pick of three finalists for the police chief position based on feedback from a board that interviewed the candidates; police officers who met with them; and comments the public made during a September open house, said Prescott Valley Town Manager Larry Tarkowski in September.
The other finalists were Bryan Jarrell, who recently retired from a 28-year career with the Southfield (Mich.) Police Department, and Ken Koch, former police chief of Taos, N.M.
Lane on Thursday told Tarkowski in person that he would not be taking the position.
He said he originally applied for the Prescott Valley post because he was drawn to the area and liked the idea of working with a smaller police department. He said over the past month he has wrestled over his decision to leave Texas, especially after the outcry from the public and colleagues wanting him to stay.
"I had already rented an apartment in Prescott Valley, and took possession on Monday, but I still felt the pull (back to Texas). I have such an incredible relationship with my employees. What they've done there in four years is amazing. They've exceeded my expectations and I feel like I owe them my loyalty to stay there," he said.
His decision was particularly difficult, Lane said, after he got to know Prescott Valley through the interview process.
"I absolutely love this place, and the police department is incredible," he said. "But I told Larry (Tarkowski) that if I can't give 100 percent commitment and total passion, I could not (take the position).
"I was very excited about Prescott Valley," he added. "I'd love to retire here."
Tom Muir, city manager in Haltom City, said staffers were "very sad to see (Lane) want to leave.
"When he first told me he was interviewing with your community and telling me how it was like, I was ready to go out there," Muir said with a laugh.
Muir said he has known Lane for four years. "I met him when I interviewed him."
Tarkowski said he would within a week reconvene the eight-person committee that interviewed the top candidates and explore the options for hiring another police chief.
Daily Courier reporter Ken Hedler contributed to this story.