THE ISSUE: Selection of the city’s police chief needs to be an open process.

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Let’s face it. The Selma Police Department hasn’t proven to be the city’s shining star recently.

Bad choices of leadership in the past have hurt the kernel of our public safety department.

But we had hopes of movement in the right direction when the Selma City Council voted to hire a firm, Slavin Management Consultants, and to conduct a search for the best possible candidates.

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Reasonably, we expected a council committee to work along with Mayor John Perkins to cull down the number of applicants given over by the consultants, then have a list of names and qualifications of the top five or six made public.

It wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility to believe that those five or six would make official visits to meet some community leaders and talk with the council committee during an interview process.

Instead, the mayor has pulled all the cards off the public table and is gripping onto them for dear life, even to the point of denying council members access to the number of applicants that have applied for the job.

Samuel Trager of Slavin has told at least one council member that he can’t release the number of applicants because the mayor’s name is the only one on the contract.

Well, this is public business concerning the public safety, and the public has a right to know who are among the candidates for top cop.

We talk a lot about building community, but moves like this one by the mayor to keep even the number of applicants a secret only spreads mistrust and hurts the community.

Please, Mr. Mayor, open the process of hiring the police chief and reach out to Selma

Bring us together with this gesture, instead of adding to the confusion and frustration citizens have regarding their police force and perpetuating the reputation of city hall as being a place where public information is kept hidden from the public and only dolled out as the current administration sees fit.