by KEVIN TAYLOR & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & T & lt;/span & he city of Coeur d'Alene, seeking to replace Police Chief Wendy Carpenter by September, will interview three finalists July 2.

After a first round that knocked 44 candidates out of the mix, the three still in the running include Capt. Steve Childers of the Coeur d'Alene Police Department, Capt. Wayne Longo of the Idaho State Police and Deputy Chief Eric Buske of the Omaha, Neb., Police Department.

The identity of the interview board is kept from applicants in advance so candidates don't try and tailor their remarks to impress specific people, says Pam McDonald, the city's director of human resources. The board will be different than during the first round of interviews in June and will be comprised of nine city officials and citizens.

At 40, Childers is the youngest candidate. He joined the force in Coeur d'Alene in 1987 as a reserve officer and was working full-time within two years. He has worked the patrol, detective and drug task force divisions. Childers is married with one child and has been selected for training this summer at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va.

Longo is the oldest of the candidates at 53.

"I had never been farther west than Buffalo, New York," the Long Island native says, until his first job out of college in 1976 with the ISP in Lewiston. He had transferred to Coeur d'Alene by 1978, "and I never wanted to leave."

He was commander of the ISP investigations bureau for 18 years before being named patrol commander five years ago.

Longo is married with two children and says even though he has put in a full career with ISP, he is interested in the police chief job for the opportunity.

Buske, though only 45, is looking for a second career in a sense, he says. He could stay in Omaha, where he has risen swiftly through the ranks in 19 years, but is seeking the challenge of being a chief.

"My wife and I have looked all over the country for nice places to live and good police departments," Buske says.

He will emphasize community-oriented policing but won't consider specific changes in advance. "I don't think it's fair for a new boss to come in and say we'll do x, y and z until you know the department," Buske says. He is married with five children.

He's been everything from patrol officer to precinct commander with stops along the way in gang, drug and violent crime units.

The chief salary has a range from $72,500 to $102,000 depending on experience, McDonald says. Childers' salary is about $90,000, Longo makes about $75,000 and Buske "in the low 100,000s," he says.

Carpenter is paid just shy of $102,000. Her predecessor, Tom Cronin, hired from the Chicago PD, made $66,310, McDonald says.

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Kevin Taylor

Kevin Taylor is a staff writer for The Inlander. He has covered politics, the environment, police and the tribes, among many other things.