Chattanooga police chief search committee recommends three finalists to mayor

Andy Berke is expected to make final decision before month's end

photo David Roddy

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke has a short list of candidates for the next police chief: acting Chief David Roddy, Assistant Chief Edwin McPherson and Capt. Todd Chamberlain of the Los Angeles Police Department.

A five-person search committee whittled down a list of 49 names to reach its recommendations, which were announced Monday afternoon. Six of the 49 applicants were already members of the Chattanooga Police Department.

"We feel like this has been an open, fair and deliberative process," the committee wrote in a joint statement. "We appreciate every applicant's willingness to serve the City of Chattanooga and offer our congratulations to the three finalists."

"Each of them brings decades of experience and a thorough knowledge of law enforcement to the position. Any of them would make an incredible leader for the department."

Chamberlain is the only remaining non-local candidate, but he brings more than 30 years of experience with one of the nation's largest metropolitan police departments, where he has served as a police commander since 2010.

"[Chamberlain] has ascended within the ranks of the LAPD and now has over 1,800 officers under his command," according to a statement from Berke's office. "During his tenure with the department, he has implemented several new programs including operation ceasefire, the major incident response team and domestic violence intervention.

"In addition, he currently serves as the homeless coordinator for the entire LAPD where he has developed new systems, partnerships, and protocols for serving the homeless population in Los Angeles."

In his application, Chamberlain noted he worked in partnership with the city attorney's office to implement the "Skid Row" injunction.

The injunction, issued in 2011, targeted almost 80 people identified by law enforcement as the area's "most prolific narcotics dealers" and prohibited them from being in the area, possessing drugs or dangerous weapons or selling drugs on Skid Row, according to The Los Angeles Times.

photo Edwin McPherson

The other remaining candidates already work for the Chattanooga Police Department. Roddy was appointed to take over the helm after the retirement last week of former police Chief Fred Fletcher. Roddy was picked by Fletcher to be his chief of staff in July 2014.

"He has served as the captain over several divisions including uniformed services and internal affairs," according to the city's statement.

"In his current role, he has helped lead several of former Chief Fred Fletcher's directives including focusing on data and technology driven policing, developing the predictive community and intelligence-led policing (Pre-CIP), and creating a new mission, vision, and values for the department."

McPherson also offers more than two decades of experience in the Chattanooga Police Department. He began as a patrol officer in 1992 and worked his way to his current position serving as assistant chief of the criminal investigations bureau.

He also has the support of a local NAACP committee formed to assist the search.

In May, local NAACP representatives said more should be done in the search process to fully represent the interests of all Chattanoogans, specifically those in black communities, and the panel was formed after a meeting with Berke.

The members of the NAACP panel independently narrowed down the list of applicants to Roddy and McPherson, both of whom were interviewed by the panel last week. The panel said both were "clearly qualified" to lead the department, but McPherson walked away with the final recommendation.

photo Todd Chamberlain

"Chief McPherson is from Chattanooga. He knows the communities, and he cares deeply about every citizen," the committee said in a statement.

"His passion to protect this city and punish those who attempt to cause harm here is evident as is his willingness and ability to work with those who need his help, especially our at-risk youth. The NAACP has no doubt that Chief McPherson is ready to lead the Department, and the City of Chattanooga will be a safer and better place because of his leadership."

McPherson was also helped by a decision last month by Berke's office to drop the requirement of a college degree for the job. Roddy and Chamberlain both have degrees, but McPherson does not.

Berke's office modified the application requirements at the behest of the search committee he organized and the minimum qualifications were expanded to allow for "fourteen years of any combination of relevant education, training or experience sufficient to perform the essential duties of the job."

His office also extended the application deadline after the modification. Originally, applicants were asked to submit their materials by June 9, but the position was been reposted with a new deadline of June 20.

McPherson defended his qualifications to be Chattanooga's next police chief in an email, adding that he was in the process of attaining his college degree.

"I believe on-the-job/life experience, effective leadership, and ability to successfully serve are sufficient for becoming Chattanooga's next Police Chief," he wrote. "I have committed a quarter century of my life to selflessly serve and protect the citizens of Chattanooga. I look forward to the opportunity to serve as their next police chief."

Marissa Bell, a spokeswoman for Berke's office, said Berke would be conducting interviews with the final three candidates and make his decision over the next two weeks. Once his selection has been made, the matter will go before the City Council, which must ratify his choice.

Contact staff writer Emmett Gienapp at or 423-757-6731. Follow him on Twitter @emmettgienapp.