CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- A field of 10 candidates for Cleveland's next police chief will be reduced to three finalists soon, with the expectation that the new chief will be in place by Oct. 1.
On Monday, law enforcement consultant Larry Wallace discussed search process plans with the Cleveland City Council.
"We are in the process now of doing preliminary background [checks] on those 10 individuals," said Wallace, who described the checks as "computer-oriented" and concerning qualifications and similar information.
Wallace previously stated that he also would like to conduct special testing with the final candidates.
The interviews for the final three candidates will be held publicly, but not with the public in attendance, said City Manager Janice Casteel.
"The public will be able to view the interviews, but they will not actually be in the rooms where the interviews are conducted," she said.
On Friday, Casteel announced that the police chief interview panel, which includes Casteel, Wallace, Lee University President Paul Conn and Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce board President Robert Bradney, had selected the 10 finalists from a group of 36 applicants.
Mark Gibson, who has served as interim police chief since March, is one of the 10 candidates.facebook
Between the time served as interim chief this year and as acting chief last year, he has been in charge of day-to-day operations of the department for nine months since September 2014.
Four Chattanooga law enforcement officers also made the first round of cuts: Chattanooga State Community College Police Chief Stephanie D. Hill, Red Bank Police Chief Timothy Christol, University of Tennessee of Chattanooga Police Chief Craig S. Hamilton and Chattanooga Police Department Capt. Nathan A. Vaughn.
Five other finalists, ranging across the state, also made the first cut: McKenzie Police
Department Chief Craig B. Moates, Tennessee Highway Patrol Captain Jessie Brooks, Monroe County Sheriff's Office Capt. Michael D. Bledsoe, Williamson County Sheriff's Office Capt. Thomas R. Parker and Madison County Sheriff's Office Capt. Anthony W. Heavner.
The next police chief will be "a crucial and ultimately pivotal appointment" for the department as well as the citizens of Cleveland, said Wallace in a recent report to the Cleveland City Council.
Wallace was hired by Cleveland in March, shortly after then-police Chief Dennis Maddux was demoted back to captain after his highly publicized involvement with a subordinate officer's wife. Maddux was officially chief for one day.
An internal investigation, overseen by the 10th Judicial District Attorney's Office, concluded that Maddux violated department policy by lying about a months-long extramarital affair. Gibson recommended that the city manager fire Maddux, but the embattled former chief resigned before any disciplinary action could be taken.
In January 2014, Wes Snyder, who had served as police chief for eight years, retired after surveillance video surfaced that showed him trysting with a woman at a storage unit equipped with a lawn chair, blankets, and a bottle of brandy.
Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Timeline of Cleveland sex scandals
Aug. 7: Officers Carlton Walls and Chad Nave are placed on administrative leave to investigate allegations of extramarital sex and a woman’s accusation that she was sexually assaulted July 31 at a rented cabin in Gatlinburg.
June: Lt. Steve Tyson and Officer Jeffrey Griggs’ demotions and reassignments upheld for policy violations related to investigation of ex-Chief Dennis Maddux’s affair with Griggs’ wife.
May: Maddux submits retirement letter after internal affairs investigators said he lied about the relationship and events involving Cindy Griggs.
February: Officer Jeff Griggs finds his wife and Maddox trysting in a car across the county line in Calhoun, Tenn.
January 2014: Longtime Chief Wes Snyder retires after surveillance video showed him meeting a woman at a warehouse storage unit fitted out with a rug, blankets and a bottle of brandy.
July 2013: Former Officer Ross Wooten is suspended and later resigns over the third allegation of sexual misconduct since he joined the department in 2004. The woman also sued him in federal court.
May 2013: Sgt. Bill Higdon is terminated for repeated policy violations two months after suggestive texts and explicit photos from him turn up on the phone of a high-dollar prostitute whose death by gunshot was ruled a suicide.
December 2011: Snyder claims there was no evidence to investigate allegations of that officers were giving pills and alcohol to teenage girls and having sex with them before one officer shot and wounded another in December 2008. An investigation led to the imprisonment of Officers Dennis Hughes and Nathan Thomas on charges of having sex with 14- and 16-year-old girls.