Police Chief Search To Begin Soon - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

Police Chief Search To Begin Soon

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Chief Willie Lovett's retirement announcement on Friday has city and county leaders looking ahead to the search for a new Metro Police Chief - but it wasn't just the job of Chief, Lovett's departure left unfilled. News 3 sat down with Crime Expert Gerry Long to discuss the issues facing Metro. Gerry Long says there are basic qualifications established for the position - traditionally a minimum of a management level position in another law enforcement entity, and a minimum of a master's degree, either in criminal justice, public administration, or public safety...the key is finding the best fit for the job - something the department is already doing for several positions with the departure of its leader.

Chief Lovett's departure Friday meant swift moves to fill the management vacuum at the top. Major Juliette Tolbert became the Interim Chief, Downtown Precinct Captain Mike Wilkins moved to acting Major of Special Operations, and Savannah Impact Program Director Terry Enoch became acting Assistant Chief. Now their jobs have to be filled. Long says, "I think that is a priority, particularly the downtown, because of the dynamics - downtown being where everything happens - Forsyth park, River Street, Broughton Street, SpongeBob, you know - so there are a lot of moving pieces and there constantly are - not to include the day to day police work that's going on - not only downtown but in all of the precincts."

Long says it may take a little time to figure out everyone's assignment, pull the department together and move forward, but she believes that will happen fairly quickly, "They're still working on the budget right now. I mean that doesn't stop because there's been a change at the top, so you have to put your best people in places where they can be most effective." And she says the change at the top won't make much of an immediate difference to the officers on the street but as the interim Chief determines her priorities it may change the way the department gets the job done, "An interim Chief has to make the decisions on a day to day basis of moving the department forward - whether they have desires to be the permanent chief or literally they are there for six or seven month or even a year, they have to develop a strategy that is consistent with you know - nationally accepted practices to move things forward."

Long says there are many among the 800-member Savannah-Chatham Police force who might meet those basic qualifications, but isn't willing to speculate on who might go after the job. The police policy committee has a pre-scheduled meeting for next week, though they are still working to finalize the day. They will be tasked with deciding things like whether to hire a search firm or use the local H. R. department for the national search -- and what kind of qualities they are seeking in that chief.

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