As the community wished farewell to Statesboro’s outgoing public safety director during a reception Friday, Statesboro Mayor Jan Moore shared ideas about the upcoming search for his replacement.
Wendell Turner’s last day as the city’s public safety director is Oct. 13. He announced his resignation earlier this month, and will soon become the Canton Police Department’s new captain in command of support services. He has 22 years in law enforcement under his belt, having started with the Statesboro police Department in 1993. He was named public safety director in 2010 after Statesboro City Council members voted to eliminate the city’s fire and police chief positions.
It is yet unclear whether the current Statesboro city Council will seek a new public safety director or choose to reinstate the police chief position. The council plans to discuss the matter after Turner’s employment is officially ended, during the city’s second meeting in October, , Moore said.
After Turner’s taking the public safety director position in 2010, the police and fire departments each operated under commanders, who reported directly to Turner. However, after a period of time, Statesboro Fire Department’s Tim Grams was promoted from commander to chief, reinstating that position, but the police department remained without a chief after commander J. R. Holloway’s retirement. Turner headed the police department, which is now being led during the interim by Major Rob Bryan.
Regardless of which position the council decides to pursue, Moore said she hopes the community will have a voice in selecting the person who will lead the Statesboro Police Department.
“I feel the director of public safety/police chief’s position is unique because its success is dependent upon obtaining and maintaining the public’s trust,” she said. “Therefore, I am going to suggest that we follow a search and hiring process very similar to what is being done in the search for Georgia Southern (University’s) next president.”
Moore said she wants “to form an initial search committee that will review the applications and interview the candidates presented by the search firm that will be contracted to conduct the search. This committee would be comprised of citizens, professionals, and our deputy city manager. Our city council will have the opportunity to place individuals on the committee.”
The initial search committee would then give a list of three to five candidates to city council who will then determine and hire the next leader of the police department, she said.
“I think it is very important that our citizens have a voice in this process and are supportive of who will be leading our police force. The times that we are in demand that we follow a process of this nature. I feel it is the right thing to do,” she said.
Moore joined other city and Bulloch County employees, elected officials, community leaders and friends who gathered in the Statesboro City Hall council chambers for Turner’s well-wishing reception Friday evening.
“We wish him the very best. He’s been with us a long time,” she said. “He felt it was time to reach for new opportunities.”
Turner said in an earlier interview with the Statesboro Herald he had been looking to move to the north Georgia area for some time, as his fiancée of 10 years lives there.
“I want to thank everyone for all they have done, and the support they have shown me personally and professionally,” he said Friday as he mingled with guests at the reception. “I will always call Statesboro my home.”
Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.