BELOIT — The Beloit Police and Fire Commission is closing in on selecting finalists from a field of nearly three dozen applicants for chief of the Beloit Police Department, according to PFC President Ron Watson.

The PFC started its process to find a new chief in September following the departure of former chief David Zibolski, naming Inspector Thomas Stigler as interim chief.

The commission hired a third-party firm, GovHR USA, to conduct the search. It was originally thought the PFC could make a decision by early February, but the process slowed during the candidate screening process.

“The recruiter needed some additional time to do the initial screening of applicants,” said Beloit Strategic Communications Director Sarah Millard, noting that the initial timeline for hiring a chief was a guide.

A total of 35 people applied for the chief position, Millard said.

PFC President Ron Watson said six of the 35 candidates would be selected to take part in a series of in-depth exercises and evaluations on March 5, followed by finalist selections for interviews from that smaller pool of candidates.

“The PFC fully expects this process to narrow the field significantly, and we look forward to deciding on candidates for final interviews soon thereafter,” Watson said.

This is the second chief hiring search undertaken by the PFC since July of 2019 after former Fire Chief Brad Liggett departed for the fire chief’s position in Freeport, Illinois. Fire Chief Dan Pease, who was named interim chief in July of 2020, was named permanent fire chief in May of 2020.