Saluda receives 55 applications for police chief, seeks consultant

Published 5:59 pm Thursday, May 14, 2009

The City of Saluda is seeking help from consultants with its selection of a new police chief. The city received 55 applications for the position, and commissioners say they are struggling to find the right person for a profession they know little about.

The city was approached by George Erwin and Eddie Watkins, a consulting firm that recently helped the City of Fletcher find a new chief and reorganize its department.

Saluda commissioners Monday decided to spend up to $1,000 with the firm to help in the selection process. Erwin and Watkins previously proposed that the city contract with them for $10,000 to do background checks for police chief candidates, set up a review panel and investigate applicants in the communities in which they live.

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Commissioners said $10,000 was out of the question at this time, but suggested the firm could help on a more limited basis, such as narrowing down the list by providing information about persons applying that Erwin and Watkins may know.

Commissioners said Saluda is unique in what it needs in a chief, such as experience in community policing. Commissioners also would like a chief to stay for a long period of time. The last couple of chiefs have stayed only three years and moved on.

The city is replacing former chief Tonya Lindsey, who resigned recently to take a detective position with the Polk County Sheriff&squo;s Office. The city has appointed interim chief Jim Cantrell to fill the position until the city hires a permanent person.

Commissioners said they have narrowed the applications to about 12 individuals.