Karst praises interim chief Randon Matthews work and leadership

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BLOOMFIELD — The city of Bloomfield has chosen Farmington Police Lt. David Karst to be its next police chief.

Bloomfield City Councilors voted in favor of Karst during a special meeting Wednesday evening.

Karst is an Iraq War veteran who served five years in the Marine Corps. He has a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical science and a master’s degree in criminal justice. He has been a Farmington Police Officer for 13 years and will start his new career as Bloomfield Police Chief on Feb. 4.

Mayor Cynthia Atencio said Bloomfield will schedule a meet and greet after Karst gets settled in as police chief.

“David is a bright and passionate law enforcement professional who isn’t afraid to try new ideas,” said Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbe in a Facebook post. “He will be missed at the FPD, however, we are very excited to continue to work with him as chief of police for a neighboring agency. We thank him for his service with us and wish him the best with BPD.”

Karst said it will be hard for him to leave the Farmington Police Department, but he expects to feel at home in Bloomfield.

He said he was impressed by the amount of support the Bloomfield Police Department has from its residents. He highlighted the nearly 5,000 people who follow the department on Facebook.

Karst thanked interim chief Randon Matthews for the work he has done since July for the city of Bloomfield.

“He put together more programs and got more public support than I’ve seen most leaders in several years,” Karst said.

Matthews took over leadership of the Bloomfield Police Department in June after Chief Randy Foster retired.

Bloomfield delayed hiring a police chief as it considered contracting with the county for law enforcement. Ultimately, Bloomfield decided to keep its police department. While many residents encouraged the City Council to officially appoint Matthews to the vacant police chief position, the mayor urged the City Council to go through an interview process.

Matthews and Karst were among 19 people who submitted applications. They were among the six finalists. Bloomfield Police Sgt. Craig Barker was also considered for the position.

Karst received the highest cumulative score from three panels put together by the city.

City Manager George Duncan thanked Matthews for the work he has done as interim chief and said Matthews also shined during the interview process.

“I just want everybody to know that by hiring Chief Karst we’re not saying (Matthews) didn’t do a good job,” said City Councilor Matt Pennington.

San Juan County Sheriff Shane Ferrari served on an interview panel consisting of local law enforcement leaders. He said Karst made a comment that really stood out to him during the interview. Ferrari said Karst told the panel ‘I’m not here to turn Bloomfield PD into FPD.”

Ferrari said that stood out to him because a lot of police chiefs try to mirror their previous departments. He said Karst understood the Bloomfield Police Department is unique and has its own culture.

Ferrari said he believes Karst and Matthews will make a great team. Matthews will continue serving as a lieutenant.

Matthews said he has known Karst for a long time and believes Karst is a person of integrity.

“We’ve just added a great person to our department,” Matthews said.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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