COLUMBIA — Columbia Police Chief Ken Burton is considering promoting one of his three assistant chiefs to replace Deputy Chief Dianne Bernhard when she retires in May.
The three assistant chiefs — Jill Schlude, Brian Richenberger and Shelley Jones — have all expressed interest in the position. Burton said he approached them first, but he may still look outside the department.
“It’s more about fit than anything else," he said.
Burton said he will decide within the next few weeks whether one of the assistant chiefs will get the job. He's not going to rush the process, he said, since Bernhard will not officially retire until May.
Bernhard’s last day is March 14, and she will use vacation days until she's officially off payroll in May. Beginning March 14, the three assistant chiefs will split her duties among themselves.
Burton said he is looking for "progressive-minded people" who want to become police chief someday. "I want somebody that's hungry."
Bernhard, Schlude and Jones all applied for the deputy chief position two years ago. Burton chose Bernhard, but Schlude was promoted to captain. When Capt. Brad Nelson left the department last year, Jones was promoted to replace him. During this whole process, Richenberger was already a captain.
The captain rank was renamed Oct. 1 to assistant chief, according to previous Missourian reporting.
Burton said that choosing from among his assistant chiefs has been difficult.
"I know them all personally, and I’ve worked with them over the past couple of years," Burton said.
Burton said no training is necessary for the position.
“You don’t train somebody at this level," he said. "They either have it or they don’t."