Florala chief search under way

Published 11:40 pm Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Florala will have a new police chief by Dec. 22, according to a timetable announced Monday by newly elected Mayor Robert Williamson.

Williamson presented his plan during the new administration’s first official meeting, at which each of the new city council members were present — Hazel Lee from District 1, Marvin Williford from District 2, Danny Thames from District 3, Jimmy Waldrop from District 4 and Gloria Cassady from District 4.

For almost two years, Florala has been without a permanent police chief after Bruce Maddox resigned from the position in April 2007. Capt. Mark Anderson has been serving as acting chief since then.

Williamson previously stated one of his first official action items would be to initiate the search for a new chief.

“The criteria for the position is basically the same as it was a year-and-a-half to two years ago,” Williamson said of when the city ran the first ad seeking a new chief. “However, with one exception — the new chief must live within the police jurisdiction of Florala.”

The position will be advertised Nov. 12 through Nov. 23, and applications will be accepted through Dec. 3.

Williamson said the council will narrow the applications to three final candidates by Dec. 10. A public meeting to introduce each of the candidates will be scheduled between Dec. 11-15, and the final decision will be announced on Dec. 22.

Each of the members agreed with Williamson’s timetable; however, one councilman disagreed with allowing the public to meet each of the final candidates before a decision was made.

“I have to say that I am opposed to it,” Waldrop said. “I feel that the people are not going to know each of the candidate’s qualifications, so how can they make a recommendation on who to hire?”

Cassady said she liked the idea of a public meet and greet instead of utilizing an advisory panel.

“This gives the community an opportunity to meet them and to give their council person their opinion,” she said.

Williamson said he felt the process worked well in the search for a new president at Lurleen B. Wallace Community College and he would like to apply the same process in the chief’s search.

“One of the key things about being a police chief is having people skills,” he said. “This will give each of us the opportunity to see how the candidates fraternize with the public.”

The argument, however, did not sway Waldrop. He remained steadfast in his position.

“I just don’t agree with it,” he said. “That’s just my opinion.”

Williamson said the position is salaried with a range between $35,000 to $40,000.

Applicants must be a U.S. citizen, with 10 years minimum in local government, involving law enforcement, and four years minimum experience in criminal investigation and police administration or a related field; must possess and maintain a valid Alabama driver’s license and meet all promotional eligibility requirements; must be Alabama Peace Officer Stands and Training (APOST) certified as a law enforcement officer and proficient in the operation of a firearm.

Applicants will be subject to a resume/application screening, oral interview, background investigation and physical examination.

The council agreed to advertise for the position in The Florala News and through any free online avenues that could be found.