The city of Statesboro’s search for a police chief, who will probably be hired by a new city manager, has drawn 21 applicants. Nine of the candidates are from Georgia, but the other 12 hail from nine different states, reports city Human Resources Director Jeff Grant.
“We have a good pool of candidates, with several who appear to meet the criteria and characteristics we are looking for in the chief of police,” said interim City Manager Robert Cheshire.
June 6 was the deadline for applications.
Officially, the police chief reports to the city manager, who has authority to hire a new chief. Cheshire is taking an active role in narrowing the applicant pool, but acknowledges that the hiring decision will probably be made by a new city manager, after one is hired in the next few weeks by Statesboro City Council.
City manager first
“That had been our initial goal, to have the new manager in place before the final decision is made, and I think the way it’s working out there will be enough separation there to give the city manager that hire and that last pool to look at,” Cheshire said.
Last weekend, Grant on behalf of the mayor and council made public the names and resumes of four finalists for city manager, from Georgia and three other states. The council is scheduling closed-door interviews with these finalists next week, when they are also slated to meet city department heads.
For the police chief selection, city officials also plan to reveal the identity of finalists before the final hire, even though it is not a council decision.
Cheshire and Grant outlined a process in which two panels including local citizens will participate in the selection, and which will include a public “meet and greet” reception with finalists.
The city’s Human Resources Department is working with the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police to pre-screen the applicants, Grant indicated in an email. His department will submit a “short list” for consideration by the city manager or deputy city manager, which is Cheshire in his permanent role.
The two panels will consist of city administrative staff, community members, and law enforcement officials. Both panels “may” help with in-person or videoconference interviews, Grant wrote. The first panel will select the finalists. The second panel will evaluate the finalists and provide feedback to the city manager and deputy manager, he said.
An outside vendor will do background investigations on all the finalists before the final interviews, and the public reception will be held for the top three to five finalists after the final interviews, Grant said.
The process, he said, should result in the city manager being able to name the police chief by August.
At least one of the 21 police chief applicants is local. Interim Statesboro Police Department Chief Robert Bryan confirmed that he submitted an application for the permanent post, as he had said he would when named interim chief. At the time of the interim appointment in November, Bryan held the rank of major, but under the new job classification and pay plan adopted by City Council in April, his continuing title will be deputy chief, if he doesn’t get the chief’s job.
In the interim role, Bryan is the first active-duty officer with the title “Statesboro chief of police” in more than five years.
Public Safety Director Wendell Turner left in October to become captain of the Canton Police Department's support services division. After his departure, Statesboro City Council abolished the public safety director title and re-established the police chief’s role.
A council with some different members had abolished the fire chief and police chief posts back in May 2010 as part of staffing cuts and dismissed the previous chiefs in the process. At that time, Turner, previously a police captain, was made public safety director and kept that title for the last five of his 22 years with the city. The fire chief’s position was re-established several years ago, but Turner had administrative duties over both departments until his departure.
However, the mayor and council issued a proclamation in May recognizing J.R. Holloway, who retired with the title of police commander on Oct. 1, 2011, as “retired chief of police.” Made with support from Bryan and others in the department, the retroactive promotion did not alter Holloway’s retirement pay or return him to active duty.
Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.