Editorial: Council Should Play Major Role In Selecting Chief

By / Editorials / Wednesday, 05 August 2015 04:00

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

The Carolina Beach Town Council should play a major role in selecting the next Chief of Police.
The Town of Carolina Beach terminated the employment of former Carolina Beach Police Chief Ken Hinkle on May 8th, 2015. Earlier this summer the Town began a search for a new chief.
On Tuesday July 21, Town Manager Michael Cramer said the deadline to submit resumes for the position had passed and he has a large pool of applicants to chose from.
Cramer explained, "We received 86 applications for the Police Chief position. It will take me a couple of weeks to go through them and create a short list. After that I will perform phone interviews and face to face interviews."
He explained, "I am hoping to complete the interview process by the end of August.  The Police Chief is a direct report of the manager.  Council will not be included in the process, but I will keep them involved with updates."
Earlier this year the Council was informed of issues with the former chief and the work environment within the department. 
That led the Council to discussions in executive session with Cramer. That led to an investigation by a third party independent investigator.
That fact alone is an indicator that while the position of police chief reports directly to the Town Manager, the Town Manager had to hire a third party to investigate allegations against the chief by other officers that had previously expressed opinions regarding the work environment to the Human Resources Department. 
Evidently it took action by the Council to direct the Town Manager to investigate and terminate the employment of the last chief.
It took that investigation for the Manager to be fully informed of what was going on next door.
With all due respect, the Council should absolutely play an active role in the selection of the next chief so they can be 100% sure
that  person is the right choice for the community. And we may never know why the former chief's employment was terminated.
The Town Council has the power under state law to release information regarding a personnel matter that would "restore public confidence" in a department.
Nothing has been officially released that gives any reasonable level of detail.
If nothing else, the Manager should narrow the list down to five people, present his opinion of each candidate and then allow the Council to conduct interviews in closed session.
State law allows a governing body to go into closed session,  "To consider the qualifications, competence, performance, character, fitness, conditions of appointment, or conditions of initial employment of an individual public officer or employee or prospective public officer or employee."
This is not a new proposal. And communities across the state have used similar interview processes.
Council should also pay close attention to promoting from within the Police Department.
There are a number of  people in the department that have applied for the Police Chief position that have decades of law enforcement experience both on the street and in leadership/management positions.
Those individuals have a working knowledge of our community and great reputations and working relationships with other agencies throughout the county.
They deserve strong consideration because they are already invested in the community in which they live and serve and have
earned the respect of fellow officers inside and outside of the department.

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