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HUNTINGTON — In a public swearing-in ceremony on Monday afternoon, Huntington Police Chief Karl Colder outlined the road ahead of the department.

In his remarks, Colder gave thanks to officers and leadership within the police department, city of Huntington officials and community organizations for help in the transition and future collaborations between the agencies. The ceremony was at Mountain Health Arena Plaza.

“I look forward to the collaborative efforts and ... offer everything I can bring to the table,” Colder said on Monday.

Municipal Judge Gail Henderson Staples administered the oath to Colder with members of his family present. His son, Karl Colder Jr., put the chief badge around his neck. Colder gave thanks to his parents and God in his speech.

A hiring campaign to bring in a diverse group of officers will be among the tasks that Colder will lead in the near future. Colder asked for help from several national organizations in his speech, including the National Association of Black Narcotic Agents and the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives. After the ceremony, he said the goal would be to work with minority law enforcement organizations, some of which he is a member, to reach out to them to seek qualified candidates.

“I think its important that we open the eyes of those who want to become police officers or get engaged in the law enforcement community,” Colder said.

Mayor Steve Williams also spoke about the hiring campaign in his speech during the ceremony. Colder has both the experience and the contacts with outside organizations needed to lead the department, the mayor said.

Among his connections, Colder is a former special agent in charge for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Washington, D.C., Field Division Office.

“Chief Colder has the wherewithal, the experience and the contacts to lead an aggressive recruitment and hiring campaign, a comprehensive community policing strategy and a thoughtful program of innovation, diversity and inclusion,” Williams said. Chief Colder understands our challenges. Chief Colder embraces our values. Chief Colder is prepared to lead our police department. Chief Colder is prepared to collaborate with our citizens.”

The Huntington City Council approved the appointment of Colder to the role of chief earlier this month. So far, the transition has been going well, he said. The professionalism of the department’s officers shows, he added.

At the beginning of Monday’s ceremony, Lt. Phil Watkins said Colder has met with members of the police department as well as other regional law enforcement agencies for future partnerships. Williams said earlier this month that he plans to nominate Watkins as the department’s deputy police chief, if the city council approves the creation of the position.

“Today marks the beginning of exciting times for the police department,” Watkins said. “Chief Karl Colder carries a level of positive energy that is already being noticed throughout police headquarters.”

Among the ceremony’s speakers, representatives of the Fraternal Order of Police, U.S. Rep. Carol Miller, U.S. Sens. Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin gave remarks to congratulate and welcome Colder to Huntington and West Virginia. Manchin also sent a state flag to the new chief.

McKenna Horsley is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch, covering local government in Huntington and Cabell County. Follow her on Twitter @Mckennahorsley.

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