Time to hire a new city police chief

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 18, 2008

The issue: The selection of a new police chief by the mayor.

Our position: This should have been over long ago, instead, it costs more money.

The debacle over selecting a new chief of police for Selma continues.

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First, the Selma City Council has approved a whopping $10,000 to bring finalists to the city to meet the public. The public&8217;s money &8212; tax dollars &8212; is what we&8217;re talking about. This much we know, and this pillaging of the coffers at the Selma Police Department is very public.

But here&8217;s what we don&8217;t know: We don&8217;t know the names of the people on the search committee. We don&8217;t how many people originally applied for the job. We don&8217;t know how many finalists are coming to Selma to take a look at the job. We don&8217;t know when Perkins will decide to appoint someone to the position and finally oust Jimmy Martin as placeholder.

In fact, the whole charade of a committee that will look at the candidates smacks of a waste of time and effort. Perkins pushed and pushed to wrest appointment powers from the Selma City Council. He appointed Martin to the post. That turned out to be a disaster.

Is Perkins seeking to shift the blame on his committee if the next appointment turns out to be a disaster as he runs for a third term as mayor?

Secondly, council members approved hiring Glenda Deese, a retired lieutenant colonel with the Alabama State Troopers for $50 an hour to work up to 15 hours a week. She&8217;ll serve as a consultant to the police department during the transition time. The total cost of this is estimated at $12,000.

Perkins wants Deese to work from Jan 22 &8212; Tuesday &8212; through March 14 as a &8220;bridge.&8221; But the mayor said he doesn&8217;t expect to hire anyone until February.

It&8217;s unlikely someone will come on board before the first full week in February, which means the city will pay Deese, if she works 15 hours a week, about $1,500. That&8217;s a lot of money to help Martin finish up paperwork or to clear out his office. What else will she do?

The upshot of all this: On Monday night, elected officials voted to spend $22,000 to wine and dine candidates and pay a former cop to act as a link between the outgoing and incoming chiefs of police before one is hired.

Councilman Cecil Williamson of Ward 1 requested that Perkins go ahead and hire someone instead of wasting more money. Perkins said no, he wants to avoid scrutiny.

When the mayor took the oath of office as a public official, he opened up his every action to the public. That&8217;s the nature and being of a government, checks and balances. There is no avoiding scrutiny.

Our city government needs to quit wasting our precious tax dollars and get out of this mess now.