Police chief candidate pool to be narrowed to two after Friday meeting

Wednesday, January 28, 2009 | 7:32 p.m. CST; updated 10:00 p.m. CST, Wednesday, January 28, 2009

COLUMBIA — The Police Chief Advisory Committee will meet in a closed session Friday to discuss the qualifications of the remaining four candidates for police chief, said Toni Messina, Columbia public communications director.

The goal of the meeting is to narrow down the group of four candidates to two.

The meeting, which is scheduled for 11 a.m. at the Daniel Boone City Building, will include City Manager Bill Watkins and members of the citizen-staffed Police Chief Advisory Committee

"The advisory committee and the citizens who participated in the search process really are dedicated to this task and I appreciate it," Watkins said in a news release. "I take their advice seriously."

Watkins could not be reached for further comment.

On July 1, former police chief Randy Boehm retired after 31 years with the department and began a new job as head of security at MU Health Care later that month.

In May, Don Weaver, president of the Columbia Police Officers Association, said the organization would support a candidate from outside of the department, according to previous Missourian reports.

At the time, Weaver referred specifically to a 2006 report by the MU Center for the Study of Organizational Change that, among other things, found that Columbia police officers were unhappy with their jobs because of internal problems and the structure of the department.

All four remaining candidates are from outside the department. The finalists are: Police Chief Ken Burton of Haltom City, Texas; Police Maj. Christine Laughlin of Kansas City; Police Chief Wayne McCoy of Blue Springs; and Todd Miller, former police chief in Terrell, Texas.

Watkins said he would announce the names of the two finalists for the position sometime after Friday's meeting.

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