What’s next for the Columbus Police Department?
It’s been exactly two weeks since Columbus Police Department’s Chief, Freddie Blackmon, accepted a severance package from the city to retire. Now, the City of Columbus has been without a top cop for some time, and we’re working to get answers about a timeline and plan moving forward.
COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - It’s been exactly two weeks since Columbus Police Department’s Chief, Freddie Blackmon, accepted a severance package from the city to retire.
Now, the City of Columbus has been without a top cop for some time, and we’re working to get answers about a timeline and plan moving forward.
“What does Columbus need?” Columbus resident Sherricka Day asked.
... a question Mayor Skip Henderson is working to figure out while searching for a new Columbus police chief.
Right now, the department is being led by Assistant Chiefs Joyce Dent-Fitzpatrick and Debra Kennedy with Henderson handling any duties that would regularly fall under a chief.
Meantime, the mayor is utilizing a statewide resource from the Georgia Association for Chiefs of Police to name an interim leader.
“I think it was important at this stage to bring somebody in that doesn’t know anybody and doesn’t owe anybody,” Henderson explained. “Everybody gets the same opportunity to create a first impression, and everybody starts on equal footing with one another.”
He said the interim chief will serve for three to six months while a nationwide search for a permanent police chief is underway.
Long-time Columbus resident Sherricka Day explained the Fountain City has several different communities and demographics, and based on her work experience, she feels naming a leader from outside of the department may not be the best answer.
“I feel like it would help to have somebody that is rooted in Columbus, that understands our community... the ends and outs... that our community can really relate to and respect,” Day said.
Mayor Henderson explained his priority is to appoint the best leaders for both interim and permanent chief.
“The Georgia association has helped us,” Henderson told us. “They’ve provided us with a number of names, we’ve got resumes on those individuals and H.R. is assisting us in having those initial conversations. I really hope we can get a name settled on this week.”
“They say people don’t quit their jobs... they quit their management and leadership,” Day said. “...so you really want to have someone in place that people can connect with, respect and learn from. That’s what that particular role needs.”
Henderson told News Leader 9′s Ashlee Williams that he will be taking advice from Columbus Police Department employees plus the citizens on what they want to see in a chief.
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