It's been quite a while now since Gulfport Police Chief Alan Weatherford announced his decision to retire. For seven months, an extensive search for his replacement has been underway, but there's still no word on who will be named the next chief of police.
"We're making the recommendation that the Deputy Chief, Leonard Papania take his place. Leonard Papania is of course protected by civil service and he will like to have that protection during this interim period in case he is not chosen as the permanent Chief. However, he is a candidate for permanent Chief," Mayor George Schloegel said.
In addition to Papania, the city's Human Resources Department revealed that there are about four other major players with names in the hat. The city conducted a nationwide search to the tune of $70,000. The entire process left the city with a total of 65 applicants, three of which were internal. The next step is to have the top five candidates assessed by a psychiatrist.
"As with any selection process when we're hiring new people for key positions, the city like most private businesses, employs a psychological evaluation. We're authorized to do that as we look for the new chief," Schloegel said.
Councilwoman Ella Holmes Hines voiced concerns that whatever decisions were made now, could change with a new administration in July. The mayor however assured the council that would be taken care of. As he's working with Billy Hewes, the only qualified candidate for Gulfport mayor.
"I'm trying to work with whoever will be the next administration so that we do not have to go through this process twice. If we're able to do that depending on who the candidates are. Right now we only have one candidate and I have involved him in that process. If they do, we will involve them in that process so that whoever we select will be the candidate of choice for the next administration as well and save the city a lot of money. It will also save the department from having to go through a chief and interim chief and then a permanent chief. We'd like to do it all in one swoop," Schloegel said.
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