40 applications received for Columbia police chief - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

40 applications received for Columbia police chief

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The City of Columbia has begun to receive applications for its still-vacant spot as the city's chief of police. As of Tuesday, 40 applications have been received for the job of top cop.

Of those 40, 12 are minorities, two are internal candidates, 18 are past or current chiefs, and five have assistant or deputy chief experience. People from 7 other states are interested in the job, and 11 of the applicants are from South Carolina.

In a council workshop on Tuesday afternoon, Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin surprised a lot of people when he suggested another move.

"If you want to get a world-class product, you have to have a world-class process," said Benjamin.

The search process is currently being run by City Manager Teresa Wilson. Wilson formed a committee to help with the nationwide search. It's a committee most council leaders seem to be happy with.

"I feel like the city manager's made some good steps into making that decision comfortably," said Councilman Moe Baddourah.

Now, Benjamin says the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce is willing to foot the bill for another element to a nationwide search. It could possibly mean integrating an outside search organization into the process.

WIS contacted the Chamber and found out it's actually the Navigating from Good to Great organization that's willing to fund it.

"I've supported the Chamber's involvement," said Benjamin. "The reality is that if you ever are going to move forward and become the city we were talking about, taking the journey from good to great, you have to make sure our partnerships reflect that."

Wilson and Columbia council members tell us when they heard about the idea, they shot it down.

"That was unanimous by just about every council member to continue that process by letting the city manager continue with steps she's taken and the committee she's hired," said Baddourah.

The mayor seems to see things differently, though.

"Council, along with our city manager, has determined today that maybe at some point in the future in the next several weeks, the involvement from the Chamber and maybe an outside search organization may be integrated into the process," said Benjamin.

Baddourah questions the timing of sudden interest.

"It's funny because I've been trying to get the city manager to hire a chief for seven months and all of a sudden now the Chamber of Commerce is showing interest in getting into the process," said Baddourah. "It kind of makes you wonder why now."

"Why now" is the question no one seems to be able to answer at this point.

Applications are due on Tuesday. The search committee is expected to start reviewing them on Monday.

If all goes as planned, interviews will start in January and the new chief will be on the job in March.

We talked with Interim Police Chief Ruben Santiago on Tuesday night. He wants the job, but says he'll still continue to serve Columbia if it doesn't work out.

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