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Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / Chattanooga mayor Tim Kelly speaks on Wednesday Oct. 27, 2021.

Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly will hold the final public meeting to garner input from residents about their expectations for the next police chief on Monday evening.

The session, the third of its kind, will be conducted at 6 p.m. via Zoom. At the latest meeting on Thursday, Kelly said the decision to replace Chattanooga Police Chief David Roddy, who retired at the end of July, will be one of the biggest decisions of his political career.

"Finding the right chief and appointing that chief is going to be the most important decision, probably, that we make during the course of our first year, if not the entire term in office," Kelly said.

His appointment will require approval by the city council.

(READ MORE: Chattanooga group seeks funding to mentor youth and curb violence)

The new police chief will be hired by February, the mayor has said. He or she would take over for Deputy Chief Eric Tucker, who has served as the interim police chief since Roddy retired.

That person will take the helm of the department as the city struggles to curb a surge of gun violence, which the mayor acknowledged at the beginning of the Thursday meeting.

But the expectations of residents during the meeting went beyond just the ability to address the string of violence during the COVID-19 pandemic.

(READ MORE: Chattanooga Police Chief Roddy announces retirement)

Residents overwhelmingly emphasized the importance of community policing, according to those who held the group sessions. Their preferences included a need for more police officers walking the streets rather than driving by in their vehicles.

In addition, they expressed interest in a chief that would embody the diversity of the community — whether because of their gender or race — with a history of living in the city.

Those who wish to participate in Monday's meeting can register at bit.ly/PoliceChiefMeeting. Residents may also take a survey on the city website at chattanooga.gov/police-chief-search-public-input/ or by calling the city's 311 service by dialing 311 on their phone or calling 423-643-6311.

Contact Logan Hullinger by phone at 814-319-5158 or via email at lhullinger@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @LoganHullinger.

(READ MORE: Chattanooga mayoral candidates clash over police chief)

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