Crestwood looks within for new police chief; four current employees apply for post

By BURKE WASSON

While Don Greer retains the title of Crestwood police chief until July 15, city officials are looking within the Police Department to find a new person for the job.

Four candidates vying to be hired as the new police chief will be interviewed Friday, according to City Administrator Frank Myers. All four applicants are current Police Department employees, and Myers declined to reveal any of their names at this time. The deadline for internal search candidates to apply for the police chief position was March 20.

Myers said while he and Assistant City Administrator Justina Tate certainly are open to advertising the position, they believe that completing an inside search is a a necessary part of the hiring process for a new chief.

“We have done an internal posting and we’re first exploring an internal search,” Myers said. “If we’re not satisfied with the candidates that we receive through an internal process, then we could go outside. But we’re moving forward with an internal search to fill that position.”

Myers said he and Tate would conduct the interviews Friday. After the interviews are finished, Myers said he and Tate then will make a “strength-and-weakness list” for each candidate and ultimately recommend a new police chief to Mayor Roy Robinson.

“I’m waiting for (Myers’) recommendation, and then we’ll discuss it,” Robinson said. “I haven’t even seen the questions they’re going to ask or anything. So I’m leaving it up to them, and then we will sit down and discuss if that’s what we want.”

The new police chief officially will take office when Greer’s term ends July 15, but Myers said the new chief would be expected to begin running daily operations of the Police Department if hired before that date.

The reason for the city’s search from within its own ranks is simply another way for Crestwood to save money and possibly restructure the Police Department, according to Myers.

“By going internally, we’re going to be looking to restructure the middle management positions of the Police Department,” Myers said. “It’ll enable us to achieve some savings that we couldn’t achieve otherwise. That’s why we’re looking internally first. We’re very cost conscious here in Crestwood. If there’s a way we can — through a promotion — restructure the department and save the cost of a position, that’s what we want to do.”

While the salary of the new police chief will be negotiable, Myers estimates that the new chief will be paid near the $70,000-per-year range. The city has no official acting police chief at the moment.

Police Capt. Rick Downs, whom Myers said has not indicated an interest in being hired as the new police chief, has been handling the day-to-day operations of the department since Greer reached a retirement agreement with the city.

Through Greer’s agreement with the city, the former city administrator and police chief will have been paid more than $74,500 in accumulated time-off hours by the city between Feb. 6 and Aug. 1. Under the agreement, Greer’s time-off pay — spread across 1,635.85 accumulated hours — is based on his current annual salary of $94,790. Greer will be paid for the first 1,265.85 hours of time-off pay in 40-hour-per-week increments through July 15. At that time, Greer will be paid a lump-sum amount by Aug. 1 for his remaining 370 hours of vacation pay. Greer also will receive his city car allowance in the amount of $830 per month from February through June.

In Greer’s agreement with the city, his role with the Police Department is de-scribed as “limited and transitional.” He no longer has a city office and can only help with the department when asked by city officials. A refusal to answer such a request, however, does not mean that Greer has violated his agreement.

Myers said he and Tate have no time frame for the length of their search. However, no one can officially be named police chief until Greer’s term ends on July 15.

In the meantime, Myers said he would be readying the interview process this week with Tate so they can see if any current police employee is qualified for the job.

“We have not even contemplated (an outside search) yet,” Myers said. “We want to exhaust our internal search first. And certainly, we’re hopeful we’ll find a candidate within the Crestwood Police Department that will make an excellent chief. So, we want to explore that first before we develop a plan B.

“Certainly, we recognize it’s a very key position. And we’re going to be working through our process and looking forward to the opportunity to evaluate these candidates.”