The hunt to replace retiring Sylva Police Chief Tammy Hooper has been narrowed down to six candidates, according to town Manager Paige Dowling.

“We received 20 applications and we are down to six finalists,” Dowling said.

Interviews with the remaining candidates are scheduled for the third week of July, with a target date of selecting a new chief by Aug. 1. An assessment panel consisting of law enforcement personnel and managers from Western North Carolina will participate, Dowling said. She expects to have four or five people on the panel when the potential members have been confirmed.

The application period opened May 9 and was set to close at noon on May 31, but was held open until June 14.

“We extended the application period to widen the pool,” Dowling said. “We went from 13 candidates to 20 by extending it.”

The job listing was posted in The Sylva Herald, at the League of Municipalities and the Association of Police Chiefs.

“The six finalists have all worked in North Carolina,” Dowling said. “Fifteen of the 20 applicants were from North Carolina. The most distant was from the Midwest, and one was from Tennessee. We’re looking for the type of person who will be the best fit for the department and community.”

The Sylva Police Department consists of 14 fulltime employees.

According to the job posting on the website of the League of Municipalities, “The police chief leads the police department in a community of approximately 2,800 residents, who expect community engagement and a high level of services. The service area, including the commercial corridor, covers a traffic volume of 32,000 vehicles per day. The Sylva Police Department has a $1.3 million budget and 14 sworn law enforcement officers.”

The salary range for a new hire ranges from $63,236 to $79,046, depending upon experience. Hooper, the town’s first female police chief, has held the job for two years.