Two Perry police captains among eight on short list for police chief

bpurser@macon.comNovember 1, 2012 

WARNER ROBINS -- A third-party search for a Perry police chief has developed a short list of eight candidates that includes two captains already on the force.

It’s the first time city leaders have had to fill the post in 16 years. The opening was created by the retirement of George Potter as the director of public safety. The mayor and City Council decided to dissolve that position and bring back the post of police chief.

Potter, who retired in June due to health problems, served six years as the public safety director and the previous 10 years as police chief.

Perry police Capt. Bill Phelps, who heads the patrol division and was designated on an interim basis to handle some administrative functions of the department, and Capt. Heath Dykes, who is in charge of the criminal investigations division, are both among the remaining candidates from an original field of 27, City Manager Lee Gilmour said.

Gilmour declined to name the other six candidates, citing the confidentiality of the search process. He said it’s no secret that Phelps and Dykes are candidates.

Mayor Jimmy Faircloth and City Council are expected to review the eight candidates Tuesday night, Gilmour said. How the process will proceed after the mayor and council review the short list is up to the elected leaders.

Faircloth said he expects council members will select three to five candidates to interview.

“I cannot imagine we wouldn’t think one of those candidates is a good fit,” Faircloth said. “But there’s always an outside possibility ... That’s true of any position.”

The Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police was hired for $9,500 to conduct the search.

Frank Rotondo, the association’s executive director, said the candidates are ranked based on their qualifications. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the candidate ranked at No. 1 is the best person for Perry police chief, he noted.

For example, a candidate ranked at the top may not be skilled at grant writing, but a city may identify that as a crucial skill required for its next police chief, which might move a candidate lower in the ranking to the top spot, he said.

The salary range for the post is $65,800 to $93,900, which is the range for other cities the size of Perry, Gilmour said.

Faircloth noted that the council is moving judiciously to ensure the right person is selected.

“We do understand the importance of making the right selection with the right match of the person to the job and to our community,” Faircloth said. “Time is of the essence, but we’re going to take the right amount of time to ensure the right person for the job.”

To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.

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