Community input sought for police chief selection

Sunday, September 7, 2008 | 3:45 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Residents with ideas about qualities the next police chief should possess will have a chance to share their thoughts this week.

Slavin Management Consultants, based in Norcross, Ga., is assisting the city with its search for a chief and will conduct a community focus group from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday in Rooms A and B of the Activity and Recreation Center, 1701 W. Ash St. A citizen advisory committee leading the search chose Slavin to help after comparing its application with two others.

Those who cannot attend the Thursday forum can also offer their input online at through Sept. 22.

Thomas Gray, a member of the Police Chief Advisory Committee, said public input is critical.

"I think it's extremely important" Gray said. "I think that's why our city manager and the mayor and everyone wants to make this a completely open and transparent process, and I think that will occur."

Committee member Paulette Hansen said public opinion is especially important to the early stages of the search and the Thursday meeting will be a good place to start.

"The people who are actually hiring have more knowledge of how the city is working and the budgeting and the interaction of agencies that a layperson wouldn't have knowledge of, and they ultimately would have the final decision, and I think that's a good thing," Hansen said. "As long as they're taking into consideration what the lay people want. I hope they're making the decision based on what the community wants, and I think that's what they're trying to do."

The city is seeking a chief to replace Randy Boehm, who retired in July after 31 years with the Police Department. Boehm is now manager of security for MU Health Care. Capt. Tom Dresner is serving as interim chief.


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