Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, May 19, 2017

Community help sought in hiring new police chief

The City of Chattanooga will enlist the help of the community as it selects the next chief of police. Last month, current Chief Fred Fletcher announced he will retire at the end of his contract this July.

The selection committee, which will recommend final applicants to Mayor Andy Berke, also includes community representation.

“Establishing a committee made up of community members and external stakeholders is the same formula we used to select Chief Fletcher,” says Mayor Andy Berke. “That strategy produced great results last time, and I am confident it will help us again determine the right chief.”

The six-person selection committee was chosen for their diverse backgrounds as well as their specific areas of expertise, both in the public safety and judicial system and within the community. The committee includes Bill Cox, former Hamilton County District Attorney, Olga de Klein, former chairperson of Highland Park Neighborhood Association’s safety committee, Bill Killian, former U.S. Attorney, Pastor Ternae Jordan of Mt. Canaan Baptist Church, Chris Ramsey, TechTown CEO and Judge Christie Sell.

Applications will be accepted from May 17-June 5, 2017. Once the submission process ends, the selection committee will review all applications, narrow the field and interview finalists. The committee will recommend no more than three applicants to Berke.

“Including the perspective of those whom you serve is important when making a decision such as this,” Jordan says. “I’m looking forward to adding my voice to this process to ensure our next police chief shares the values of the community in which he or she will serve.”

In addition to a selection committee, the Citizen Safety Coalition will develop a citizen survey to help inform the review criteria used during the selection process. This survey will also be used to determine interview questions for potential applicants. The Coalition encourages all citizens to provide their feedback on the selection of a police chief and help facilitate the outreach effort by sharing the survey, which will be distributed and made available online in the coming weeks.

In the 2014 process that hired Chief Fletcher, the city also used an outside search agency in addition to a local selection committee. The outside agency was used to conduct a national search for qualified applicants. Because of strong internal candidates in the police department today, as well as the national interest in Chattanooga, the city will forgo hiring an outside search firm for this process. However, all candidates will be considered equally regardless of whether they are internal or outside applicants.

All applicant screening will take place prior to Chief Fletcher’s retirement, which will be effective July 6, 2017, the selection committee has stated. However, Berke says he is prepared to appoint an interim chief if more time is needed.

“Chief Fletcher has built a deep bench of leaders at the police department and any of them could step up to lead us through a transition. In fact, I have no doubt some of these talented leaders will be among the strongest applicants for the final position,” Berke says.

Per the City of Chattanooga Charter, the mayor’s appointment of the police chief is subject to approval by Chattanooga City Council.

Source: Office of the Mayor