City manager sends council memo outlining process to hire Savannah’s next police chief

FILE PHOTO - A Savannah Police Department badge.
FILE PHOTO - A Savannah Police Department badge.(WTOC)
Published: Aug. 5, 2022 at 4:59 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Savannah City Manager Jay Melder sent city council members a memo outlining how the selection of a new police chief will work.

In that memo, Melder told council he plans on finishing the search by the end of this year.

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson has seen his fair share of police chief searches, and even been involved in hiring one when he worked for Chatham County.

“The selection of a police chief is probably the most anticipated, most weigh-in search in a municipal government other than the city manager,” Mayor Johnson said.

As for the search criteria sent to council by Melder, Mayor Johnson called it a well thought out process, and commended Melder on the selection of the search firm named, Police Executive Recruitment Forum.

“It is probably the gold standard as it relates to, that’s what they do. And police chiefs are connected to them because obviously they are really good at connecting chiefs with cities,” Mayor Johnson said.

This morning, the Savannah City Manager sent a memo to Council outlining to processes and timeline for the search for...

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Mayor Johnson pointed out PERF is actually the search firm that brought former Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Chief Michael Berkow.

As for the process, Melder’s outline calls for community engagement through online surveys and community meetings starting next week. Ultimately interviews would begin in November, with a permanent chief being named by the end of December.

As for council’s role in the process, Mayor Johnson said this.

“We’ll provide input in terms of what we would like to see, but ultimately, the decision is the city manager’s. We cannot hold the city manager responsible for a decision that we made for him.”

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