SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Sixty-seven people submitted applications to become the next chief of police for the Savannah Police Department.
The applicants are from 23 U.S. states and China. Thirteen candidates are from Georgia, and two are current SPD officers.
The city of Savannah contracted executive recruiting firm Mercer Group to lead the police chief search. Once the pool is narrowed, three different panels will interview the remaining candidates. The city did not say how many candidates would be interviewed.
City executive staff members make up the first panel, and the second is a citizens advisory panel.
Each city council member chose a community member to represent him or her on the panel.
Here are their chosen representatives:
- Mayor Eddie DeLoach: Reed Dulany III, president and CEO of Dulany Industries.
- Alderwoman Carol Bell: Greg Parker, owner of the Parker’s convenience store chain.
- Alderman Bill Durrence: Brenda Walker, president of the Live Oak Neighborhood Association.
- Alderman Brian Foster: Savannah attorney Steven Scheer
- Alderman John Hall: Rev. William Eason, president of the Edgemere/Sackville Neighborhood Association.
- Alderman Van Johnson: Da’Henri R. Thurmond, Sr., pastor of St. Paul CME.
- Alderman Julian Miller: Kevin Klinkenberg, executive director of the Savannah Development and Renewal Authority.
- Alderman Tony Thomas: former Savannah Mayor Edna Jackson.
- Alderwoman Dr. Estella Shabazz: Ulysses Bryant, President of the Liberty City, Southover, and Richfield Neighborhood Association, retired SCCPSS campus police chief and current Savannah State University interim police chief.
The third panel is made of law enforcement executives, but the city did not provide details about the panel members.
Alderman Van Johnson says the city's top officer has to interact well with people from all walks of life, and this is a good start.
"Obviously, it's not council's decision to make. The city manager has chosen to include citizens on this. I think it makes absolute sense. These are the end users so to speak, and they represent the community. I guess he wants to make the best decision possible, so I think it makes sense," Johnson said. " I want to see someone who gets Savannah, who understands the uniqueness of Savannah; someone who can go from our most expensive homes to the areas where people have lived in persistent poverty for over 30 years, and be able to interact with all of them."
Johnson won't have a direct say in who will get the job, but each city council member will have their chosen representative who will interview the candidates on an advisory panel. Johnson picked the pastor of St. Paul CME Church.
"First of all, he's a member of the clergy. He's been working with me very closely with the issues of young people. In terms of the community, those who have been disenfranchised, those that have had issues with the police," he said.
During its police chief search in 2014, the city received 144 applications and eventually chose Jack Lumpkin. Johnson hopes the next hire continues what Lumpkin started.
"He came here for a culture change. We needed a culture change. We had had some years of very turbulent times, the culture had to be changed, and so we need someone now to continue that culture change, again, to change the focus from enforcement to, really, people skills and problem-solving."
So far, Johnson thinks City Manager Rob Hernandez's process will find that person.
"His methodology right now looks sound," Johnson said. "It seems inclusive. He seems like he wants to hear from different segments of the community. We'll see how it goes."
The city said Developmental Associates, LLC will conduct an assessment for police chief candidates to complete.
Former Pooler Police Chief Mark Revenew has served as interim Savannah Police Chief since January.
Savannah City Manager Rob Hernandez hopes to have a new chief in place by the fall.