COLUMBIA — Police Chief Ken Burton has narrowed down the list of possible deputy chiefs.
Capt. Dianne Bernhard, Lt. Shelley Jones and Sgt. Jill Schlude have been selected after the "conclusion of a nationwide search and comprehensive interview conducted by a panel of external assessors," according to a Columbia Police Department news release.
Each of the finalists will meet individually with Burton and City Manager Mike Matthes before a final decision is made for the position, which has been vacant since June when Stephen Monticelli left to take a police chief position in Virginia. The final decision will be made within the next few weeks.
Lt. Shelley Jones
Jones, 43, is the highest-ranking officer in the Internal Affairs Division and has more than 19 years of experience with the department. After serving almost six years as a probation and parole officer for Missouri, she began working with the Columbia Police Department in 1993.
Jones has 15 years total of patrol experience. She worked as a patrol officer until 2003, when she became a motorcycle officer. Jones was promoted to sergeant in 2005 and was then selected as traffic sergeant in 2008 and served in the position until she was promoted lieutenant in 2011. In 2012, Jones became commander of the Internal Affairs Division.
On Jan. 26, 1996, Jones was shot in the chest at point-blank range with a 12-gauge shotgun. She had been dispatched to Gerbes on Broadway to investigate a forged check. As she was escorting the suspect to a squad car, the suspect's husband emerged from hiding behind nearby trees and shot Jones in the chest. Jones shot her attacker in the leg as he and his wife fled, but the two escaped to Las Vegas where they were later arrested. Jones was awarded the Medal of Valor, the highest law enforcement honor in the state.
Jones said her 19 years of experience, including supervisory experience in patrol, traffic and internal affairs, qualify her for the deputy chief position. She also has a degree in administration of justice, two years of participation in the Missouri Quality Award program and training in geographic policing and problem-oriented policing.
"Any plans I have for the position will be in line with Chief Burton's," Jones said. "One of the big things I hope to focus on, however, is the Police Department's image with the public. I also hope to give excellent customer service, high performance and to continue to improve our application of geographic policing."
Concerning internal strife in the department, Jones said that communication is a central issue, and she would work to improve it.
"I would improve communication from the deputy chief's office down through the chain of command," she said.
Capt. Dianne Bernhard
Bernhard, age 49, is captain of the Administrative Support Bureau. That office oversees the Internal Affairs Division, building equipment and fleet management, purchasing, records, training and recruitment. This month marks her 20th year with the department.
She has worked as a patrol commander, patrol lieutenant and mounted team commander. She has also supervised the community action team, school resource officers and investigative unit teams.
Bernhard has a total of about 13 years of patrol experience. She said the experiences she's had, her commitment to Columbia and her commitment to the men and women who work for the Police Department make her qualified for the deputy chief position.
"I'm engaged and committed to this department," Bernhard said. "I want to continue to be a part of the leadership to move this department forward as a team. My record of cooperative work makes me a good fit for this position."
Bernhard said as deputy chief she'd work on customer service, using data to allocate resources and handling challenges as a team.
Bernhard said she will have an open door policy to solve issues of police morale.
"My leadership style is about teamwork," she said. "I will have an open door policy where people can bring feedback. While it won't be a democracy in all decisions because the chief and executive team will have the ultimate say, the input of officers will be valued."
Sgt. Jill Schlude
Schlude, 35, is sergeant of the Public Relations Unit. She began working as a warrant clerk with the Boone County Sheriff's Department in 1997. After more than 100 hours riding along with police officers on duty, Schlude decided to become one. She completed training in MU's Law Enforcement Training Institute in 1999 and worked as an officer in Ashland before she began undercover work with the Missouri State Highway Patrol's drug task force.
She left law enforcement in 2001 to finish college and worked in private sector management, as manager of a casino and two Columbia restaurants.
Schlude began working for the Columbia Police Department in 2005 as a patrol officer and was chosen the same year to be a public information officer. She was promoted to sergeant and became head of the then-newly formed Public Relations Unit. She has five years total of patrol experience.
Schlude said her unique experiences, including her private-sector management, qualify her for the deputy chief position. She said management skills like scheduling, staffing and managing public resources are applicable to the position.
"I love the Police Department," Schlude said. "My goal is to make it better. I'm the junior of the three (candidates), but I have at least 13 years left with the department and a lot of time to invest in the job. I want to continue moving this department forward in a positive direction."
Schlude said any future goals for the position will be decided with Burton.
"We all have great ideas," she said. "But at the end of the day we have to work with the chief to figure out what the priorities are."
Schlude said that at this point of the process, internal strife with officers is not a big concern.
"It's pretty early to jump into the problem because it's a deep topic," she said. "Whoever gets chosen will have to sit with Chief Burton and the city manager to figure out what the issues are and how they want to resolve the problem."
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