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Harlem officials add people to police chief search committee

Posted: February 15, 2015 - 12:11am

Harlem leaders are enlisting the help of others to search for the city’s next police chief.

Officials agreed to add a law enforcement official and a citizen to an advisory board that will help select the city’s next police chief from the 40 applicants.

Former Chief Gary Jones served as leader of the department for 18 months before he left on Nov. 1 for the chief position at the Grovetown Department of Public Safety.

“In the past, we’ve always had some form of guidance from the law enforcement community on the committee,” Councilman John Thigpen said at a called meeting Monday.

Al Reeves, an investigator with the McDuffie County Sheriff’s Office investigator and Harlem resident, agreed to serve on the advisory committee.

“The purpose of this search committee will be to make a recommendation to the city manager on who they would like to see hire going throughout the process of the interviews,” Thigpen said. Officials also agreed to add a Harlem citizen to the panel. Councilman Gregg Stokes made the recommendation “given the interest from the public in the police chief selection.”

The committee also consists of Thigpen, who also heads the city’s Public Safety Committee, Mayor Bobby Culpepper, City Clerk Debbie Moore and City Administrator Jason Rizner.

“We can start the process any time now,” Thigpen said, adding that he hopes to have a new chief hired by mid-March.

Jones gave his notice in October. City officials nixed a consideration in January to close down the city-run department in an effort to make up for a budget shortfall expected in the next couple of years.

Jones was the fifth leader of the department since 2009. Jerry Baldwin, under whom the police and fire departments merged into the Department of Public Safety, resigned in January 2009 and was replaced by Jesse Bowman in March of that year.

He stepped down in September 2011. Interim Director Benje Cowart led the department until David Sward took over in 2012. He left in early 2012 and was replaced by Jones.

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