Former Assistant Chief Jeff Walther

Former Assistant Chief Jeff Walther (left) will become Scottsdale’s interim police chief after current Chief Alan Rodbell (right) retires on Nov. 30.

Former Assistant Chief Jeff Walther will take over the Scottsdale Police Department on a temporary basis after Police Chief Alan Rodbell retires Nov. 30.

Rodbell, taking an opportunity in the private sector, became Scottsdale’s sixth police chief when he took the job in 2003 and went on to have the second-longest tenure of any chief in the city’s history after Walter Nemetz, who held the post for 19 years from 1963 to 1982.

City Manager Jim Thompson selected Walther while the city conducts a nationwide search for the city’s new top cop.

That search will begin in January and is expected to take six to eight months, according to the city.

“Alan Rodbell has served this community with dedication and distinction, and with a new City Council taking their seats in January, we will begin the process to recruit someone who will continue that legacy and lead our outstanding police department,” Thompson said.

 “We are fortunate to be able to bring back Jeff Walther, who knows our community and our department, to serve in this interim role.” 

Walther retired as an assistant chief under Rodbell in 2018 after 24 years with the Scottsdale Police Department.

He also graduated from Scottsdale Leadership, a community leadership training program, in 2012.

Prior to becoming an assistant chief, he held several posts, including stints in internal affairs and a tenure as the commander in charge of Scottsdale’s downtown district.

During his time in internal affairs, Walther, then a sergeant, investigated a controversial high-speed chase in southern Scottsdale in 2005 that resulted in a wrong-way vehicle accident on Loop 101 and left one person dead.

Walther’s report found the officers involved should never have continued the pursuit and their supervisors should have called off the chase, according to an East Valley Tribune report.

Several officers involved, including three supervisors, received suspensions or demotions due to the incident. 

Walther’s return to the force is expected to be brief as the city confirmed he will not seek the permanent chief position.