COLUMBIA — Three Columbia Police captains became assistant chiefs effective Oct. 1, to make their titles reflect their jobs.
The change does not affect the duties or pay of the officers, said Sgt. Joe Bernhard, Columbia police public information officer.
Captains Jill Schlude, Shelley Jones and Brian Richenberger all became assistant chiefs. The changes were not considered a promotion, and in the future lieutenants will be promoted directly to assistant chiefs, Bernhard said.
Brad Nelson, the captain Jones replaced when he retired this summer, suggested the change in title after he had trouble finding a chief job, Schlude said. He was automatically disqualified from some jobs just because of his title, even though he had been a captain for more than 10 years and ran nearly a third of the police department, she said.
Chief Ken Burton said the change would make officers more marketable in the future, something that concerned him after hearing about Nelson's dilemma.
"Chief Burton has a philosophy that anyone in a senior command position should be striving to become a police chief," Bernhard added.
Richenberger, who has been with the department since 1997, said the change will make it easier to find a chief job if he decides to look for one. Otherwise, he said nothing has changed in his job.
Consultants hired to do a compensation and classification study for the city also suggested the change in title, Schlude said. During the study they analyzed city jobs to make sure the description fit the title and that pay was fair, she said.
One of their recommendations was to make titles consistent throughout the city. The Fire Department's and Police Department's rank system weren't the same, but this brings them closer, Schlude said.
Schlude has been with the department for eight years and is in charge of criminal investigations, special events and evidence; Richenberger is in charge of patrol; and Jones is in charge of training, recruiting, internal affairs and records.