An initial group of 42 applicants for Petaluma's police chief job has been narrowed to four finalists, including two in-house candidates.

City Manager John Brown said he hopes to make an offer to the top candidate by July 1, the start of the new fiscal year.

Brown wouldn't discuss the finalists or whether Petaluma interim chief Dan Fish and Lt. Dave Sears are among them.

But other sources within the city said Sears and Fish were among the final four interviewed in the past two weeks. The other two, both men, are from California but not local, the sources said.

Fish has served as interim chief for more than three years, a spot he won out over Sears. Sears and he were both captains at the time, although the city eliminated those ranks last year in a cost-saving restructuring.

The chief's job pays about $190,000 annually to manage about 60 sworn officers and 30 civilian staffers.

Since Fish has been filling the position on an interim basis, the full chief's salary hasn't been included in the city's annual budget. If an external candidate is chosen as chief, finding the money in the budget for his salary will be his first task, Brown said.

If Fish isn't chosen, he would be bumped down to a lieutenant's rank and salary.

(Staff Writer Lori A. Carter can be reached at 762-7297 and