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Statesboro police chief finalists named
Blake, Rhodes, Sikes still under consideration
W Chief Blake.jpg 2016
Herbert Blake

City officials have now identified the three finalists for the job of Statesboro chief of police.

They are Herbert Blake, currently chief of the Hendersonville Police Department in North Carolina; Saundra Rhodes, until recently chief of the Horry County Police Department in South Carolina; and Charles Sikes, former special agent in charge of the Statesboro regional office of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Anonymous input from Statesboro Police Department employees was used in developing the job description, and the city called on the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police to help review applications, Mayor Jan More explained in a July 24 guest column in the Herald.

After seven semifinalists were chosen, a panel of city employees and outside law enforcement personnel interviewed them July 7 and 8. A second panel, made up of local citizens and a police chief from the Atlanta area is scheduled to interview the three finalists Tuesday, Aug. 9. Moore has invited the public to meet the finalists at a “meet and greet” event that day from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in the lobby of Sea Island Bank downtown.

"I think via the first committee's interviews and recommendations and the vetting through the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police, we have three very good and qualified candidates,” Moore said this weekend. “I look forward to their also being interviewed by the community panel and the public at the meet and greet to be held on Aug. 9. One of the three will rise to the top."

The chief is to be hired by the city manager, not directly by the mayor and council. With the city manager post also in transition, both Deputy City Manager Robert Cheshire, who has served as interim city manager for more than two years, and newly hired City Manager Randy Wetmore, who officially starts work Sept. 1, are involved in the decision.

So the questions asked and input from panelists, citizens and City Council will help to guide Cheshire and Wetmore in their decision, Moore suggested in her column.

 

The finalists

Herbert Blake has been police chief in Hendersonville, N.C., for eight and a half years. Although Hendersonville is a town of about 14,000 people, its police department also serves an extraterritorial jurisdiction with about 20,000 people, Blake noted in his resume. That makes the population it serves about the same as, or a little larger than, Statesboro’s.

 

Blake leads a department with 53 full-time employees, including 46 sworn officers, plus about 10 part-time staff, he wrote. Statesboro’s department has about 80 employees.

 

Before taking the top job with the Hendersonville department, Blake was police chief in Loris, S.C., population about 2,500, for seven years. He has almost 25 years of experience as an officer, rising through supervisory ranks, with several police and sheriffs’ departments in the Carolinas.

 

Blake also served more than 18 years in the Navy. He attained a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice administration from Park University and a Master of Arts in business management from Webster University, both in Missouri.

 

Saundra Rhodes was chief of the Horry County Police Department, based in Conway, S.C. from September 2012 until May 2016, after first serving from February 2012 as interim chief and as a captain in the department since 2006. She served with the department more than 23 years, beginning as a detective in January 1993, and her departure this year was announced as a retirement.

 

Myrtle Beach is in Horry County, but has its own city police department. The county police serve other areas of the county, which has more than 289,000 people. In her resume, Rhodes states that she commanded a department with 294 employees, including sworn officers and civilian personnel in the county’s police, airport police and beach patrol.

 

Rhodes attained a bachelor’s degree from the University of South Carolina and a master’s from the University of Cincinnati, both in criminal justice, and is a March 2015 graduate of the FBI National Academy at Quantico, VA, she reported in her resume.

 

Charles Sikes served 30 years with the GBI before retiring in 2001 as special agent in charge at the Statesboro office. He was director of the Bulloch County Probation Department from 2003 to 2006, and served as an embedded law enforcement professional with the U.S. military, with assignments to Iraq and Afghanistan, from 2008 until 2013. A decorated Vietnam veteran, Sikes served in the Army and the Georgia Army National Guard for a total of 28 years, retiring as a National Guard colonel.

 

He also served as Bulloch County clerk of courts by special appointment, from the resignation of one elected clerk until the election of a new one, from July 2013 until June 2014.

 

Sikes has degrees from Georgia Military College, Georgia College, and Georgia Southern University, including a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a master’s in adult education with a minor in criminal justice.

 

Statesboro Police Deputy Chief Robert Bryan, who has been serving as interim chief since Public Safety Director Wendell Turner’s departure last fall, recently withdrew from consideration for the permanent chief position. After Turner left, City Council abolished the public safety director position and re-established the job of police chief.

 

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