James Kerr

Petersburg borough officials and a selection committee have chosen a local candidate to be the next chief of police.

Borough officials have tentatively agreed to a contract with 38-year-old Petersburg Police sergeant James Kerr. He was one of four finalists for the position, the youngest of the four and the only local applicant.

Borough manager Steve Giesbrecht writes in an email that Kerr “did a wonderful job in the interview process and had a tremendous amount of support from the community.”

Kerr started work here in 2013. Prior to that, he worked in law enforcement in Arizona. In an interview earlier this week he said he’s hoping to increase the police department’s outreach and involvement in the community, both in uniform and off-duty.

“What’s worked for me at the police department is letting people know me outside the uniform,” Kerr said. “That’s been one of the major things and I wanna continue that with the other officers there. I mean I think if the community knows them with the uniform and without the uniform they’re more apt to draw on, Oh I know them without the uniform and they’ll feel more comfortable approaching them.”

Kerr also wants to see more of a regular police presence at the schools and more dialogue with community members.

Three other finalists from Oregon and Colorado also interviewed for the position this week.

The borough is not releasing terms of Kerr’s contract until the borough assembly considers it. That could be as soon as their next meeting on Monday, June 18. If he’s approved for the job, Kerr will replace Kelly Swihart who plans to retire at the end of the month.

The police department is currently recruiting to fill one officer’s position and will have to fill the sergeant’s job as well if Kerr becomes chief.