New chief could take 3 months
HUNTINGTON -- After an interim police chief was sworn in Monday, Huntington Mayor Steve Williams said hiring a replacement for Skip Holbrook is likely to take at least three months.
The mayor said a tentative timeline he provided to a search committee anticipated a 45-day application period and an equal amount of time to conduct interviews and provide the new hire adequate time to provide notice to his or her current employer.
Williams said he charged the search committee with bringing him a choice of three candidates equal to or better than Holbrook, whose last day on the job in Huntington was Monday. On Friday, Holbrook will be sworn in as police chief in Columbia, S.C.
The mayor also reiterated that he doesn't want salary to be an obstacle in finding the city's next police chief. Holbrook, who was hired in Huntington in 2007, was paid $70,000 a year.
Taking the oath to serve as interim chief on Monday was Jim Johnson, who has served as the City of Huntington's constituent services liaison in the Mayor's Office for the past five years. He and Williams said Johnson will not be a candidate for the full-time chief's position.
The city's advertisement for a new chief is set to appear in newspapers including The Herald-Dispatch, on the city's website and public access television station, with the state Municipal League and in national publications including Police Chief's Magazine as well as others geared specifically at women, blacks and Hispanics.
The advertisement listed salary as negotiable, and Williams continued his stance that money will not prevent the city from hiring the best candidate. He did not release a specific number, but said he anticipates asking City Council to bump the salary paid Holbrook. That includes the possibility of a public-private partnership to attract the best candidate.
"I don't want to eliminate any candidates by virtue of what we've paid in the past," he said. "It needs to be raised ... I'm reviewing every option that's available to me to make sure compensation doesn't get in the way."
Among the requirements listed for the job is a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, public administration or related field, with a master's degree preferable. The advertisement also says the position requires extensive background in law enforcement, demonstrated leadership and management ability, a proven track record of collaborating with community leaders and state and federal law enforcement agencies.
During his swearing-in ceremony, Johnson described himself as humbled by those in attendance. It marked his first foray into law enforcement since retiring as a city lieutenant in 2001 after 29 years with the department and county jail administrator in 2004. His path closely follows that of his grandfather, who also served in an interim capacity after attaining the rank of lieutenant.
"I wish my dad was alive to have seen it," he said. "I was really just overwhelmed. I didn't know if there'd be four or five people here, so I'm just really appreciative of the community."
Johnson attended roll call Monday morning with the department's patrol, detective and administrative bureaus, and planned similar meetings with the midnight shift. He does not anticipate attending roll call every day, but said he remains committed to reviewing incident reports on a daily basis and being visible in the community.
Johnson will earn an annualized salary of $60,376 in his role as interim chief, a bump from his $44,249 as liaison, said city spokesman Bryan Chambers.
Johnson is scheduled to return to the liaison post once a new chief assumes office. Meanwhile, Johnson said his liaison workload will be divided among others in the administration so as to ensure his undivided attention as chief.
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