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Gold Hill's newly hired police chief looks forward to start-up

GOLD HILL - If the thought of a small, financially challenged town attracting a police chief with solid credentials to re-establish a defunct police department is a fantasy, council members must be dreaming.

Carson City resident Rodney Countryman, retired inspector general of the Nevada Department of Prisons, was appointed police chief this week by the City Council.

Countryman will receive a $40,000 salary and benefits to lead the city's police force, which disbanded two years ago amid conflicts over personnel and liability costs.

Countryman said he was excited to be involved in the start-up of a department.

"The idea of starting something from the beginning is something I always knew I'd love to get the opportunity to do," he said.

Countryman began working in law enforcement and corrections in the 1970s.

After spending a short time in the Army, the California native worked at the Nevada State Prison from 1972 to 1975. He then worked for the Carson City Sheriff's Department until December 1986.

During his time at the sheriff's department, he held ranks of deputy, sergeant, lieutenant, chief deputy and undersheriff. He worked in patrol, traffic, administration, detectives and special operations.

He attended the FBI national academy in Quantico, Va., in 1985 and received an associate degree in law enforcement from the Western Nevada Community College in 1987.

He also spent 18 months as investigator for the Nevada Attorney General's Office until returning to the Department of Prisons as captain of statewide criminal investigations in May 1988.

From 1989 to 1993, he worked as associate warden of operations for the Nevada State Prison. He was then named inspector general for the Nevada Department of Corrections, retiring in December 2000.

After retirement, Countryman said, he set out to accomplish a goal he'd always had: to be police chief of a small town.

"It's exciting," he said. "It's going to be very interesting. Years ago, I remember telling my wife I was hoping to retire from Nevada and go to a small community and be a police chief. I can draw retirement from here - that way it doesn't have to be a financial burden to go to a smaller department."

City Recorder Tony Paxton said the council selected Countryman because he seemed to be "the candidate that was best suited for the community at this point in time."

Countryman hopes to move to Gold Hill this month. Paxton said the city expects Countryman to begin work in April.

The city will ask voters to pass an operating levy in May that would provide $54,000 annually for five years to pay for a second officer in a two-man department that would be augmented with reserves.

The city's $75,000 public safety budget will cover the chief's salary and operations.

Buffy Pollock is a free-lance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at.