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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — People in Independence got a chance Wednesday to meet the three men vying to be the city’s next police chief.

The list includes two internal candidates and a police chief from Idaho. Whoever gets the job may have some fences to mend as finger pointing continues over who’s to blame for approving officers overtime on construction projects at police headquarters.

That overtime cost nearly $400,000 and was a topic of conversation at the first and only scheduled public appearance of all three finalists since they were announced Tuesday.

Bryce Johnson has managed department’s half Independence size of $19 million with 150 employees. Working as Police Chief in Idaho Falls and Juneau, Alaska he says he’s carried a fire extinguisher to put out flames.

“My name is Adam Dustman and like Chief Johnson mentioned I’m pretty skilled at putting out fires that’s what I did about 6 months ago is came in and put out some fires,” Acting Chief Adam Dustman followed up in his introduction.

Dustman took over for the other internal candidate Ken Jarnigan during a special counsel investigation into the 3,400 overtime hours worked by a handful of Independence Officers to renovate police headquarters and the jail.

Jarnigan was named Acting Chief in December when former Chief Brad Halsey retired. In the full 57 page report given to FOX4, Halsey accused City Manager Zach Walker of lying when he said he didn’t know the extent of the project. Now Walker will make the final decision on the next Independence’s next Police Chief.

“It’s a position that we’ve seen over the past several years carries a lot of weight on the shoulders. You never know when that next critical incident is going to happen in your community and we have to make sure we have the right person to represent us both in the best of times and in the darkest of hours too,” Walker said.

Residents at the event were seemingly split on who that person should be.

“I pray they get a fair shot. They are here we need someone who knows the city knows the residents.” Citizens on Patrol volunteer Carol Salinas said.

“I’m just kind of wondering about an outside person maybe bringing a new perspective to what we do,” Barbara McDonald, an Independence school teacher, said.

While Johnson is in town all three candidates will meet with Independence Police Command Staff and officers Thursday. No timeline was given on when Walker expects to announce the new hire.

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