The selection of a permanent police chief in Petaluma is coming down to its crucial stages.

There was no shortage of applicants for the job that pays $150,000 to $180,000 a year. Forty-two people applied, City Manager John Brown said.

Because of controversy about interim chief Danny Fish, and his immediate subordinate, Lt. Dave Sears — both of whom are candidates — Brown used a headhunting firm to conduct the recruitment. He said he doesn't yet know details about the applicants.

"I'm looking forward to hearing more from the consultant this week about what some of those applicants look like so we can move on to the other phase of the recruitment," he said.

He declined to comment further.

Petalumans and members of the police department have spoken out in favor of either Fish or Sears at City Council meetings over the past few months.

Fish is embroiled in a custody dispute with his ex-wife, who accused him of violating city policy by having an affair with another city employee in 2009, a woman who used to work at the police department and is now Fish's wife.

Sears has garnered significant support in the community following his demotion from captain and $35,000 pay cut at the hands of Fish, who last year made the cost-cutting moves, which were approved by the City Council.

Brown has said he hopes to have a permanent chief in place by the beginning of the fiscal year in July. Fish has been interim chief for more than three years.