SPIRIT LAKE - Gene Marquez has been granted his wish to become a law enforcement leader after all.
Marquez has been named Spirit Lake's police chief - just a week after losing his bid to unseat Mitch Alexander as the Shoshone County sheriff.
Marquez, 53, retired from the Idaho State Police after 23 years last February to run for the sheriff's seat. He'll start at Spirit Lake in early December.
"I like small-town police work," Marquez said. "I believe the chief has to be in touch with the community and that's what my goal is."
Marquez replaces Pat Lawless, who resigned last month after three years as chief for personal reasons and amid allegations that he had a conversation with two police department employees that was "not appropriate for the workplace," city officials said.
Marquez was raised in Rathdrum and graduated from Lakeland High in 1978. He was a military police officer in the Army for three years.
Marquez worked for the Boise Police Department for three years before he went to work for ISP. At ISP, he was a sergeant for 11 years in Region 2 in Lewiston. He also worked in Region 3 in southern Idaho before moving back to North Idaho to Smelterville.
"I wasn't ready to retire, but had to run for county sheriff," he said.
Marquez also spent 18 years in the Army Reserve and was a 1st sergeant for a unit in Spokane.
"I thought that it was time to put the experience I've gained through the years to good use," he said of his desire to be in an administrative position.
Marquez said he plans to be involved in the schools and community events.
"I want to refocus the department toward community policing," he said. "My long-term vision is to have a plan of action toward drug problems and to provide training to the officers in the department for that."
Fifteen people from Idaho, Washington and California applied for the chief's position and two were interviewed.
Mayor Todd Clary said Marquez is "way more than qualified" for the job based on his 29 years of police work.
"We'll be glad to get him on board," Clary said. "There was a great selection of qualified people who applied."
Marquez said his salary hasn't been negotiated. The range is $20 to $24 an hour.
"It's not about the pay," he said. "It's about giving the community what it deserves."