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City moves to hire new police chief

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By Travis Jenkins

After nine months, the City of Chester is apparently ready to fill its vacant police chief position

At a special called meeting on Monday at which Chester City Council also made a move to fill the vacant finance director post (see related story) interviews for police chief were conducted. At the conclusion of those interviews, the council voted to offer Eric Williams the job.

That marked the latest in a flurry of hirings that has seen the city fill three of five big openings. Councilwoman Angela Douglas expressed her excitement via social media.

“All department head positions have been voted on. Public Works Director, Reginald McBeth, started yesterday. (Public Works) Committee chair Carlos Williams introduced him to the staff and toured Chester with him to welcome him aboard…And during the special called meeting, Council voted to offer Oscar Baker the finance director's position and Eric Williams, the police chief position. Of course, the offers are dependent on salary negotiations and background checks. Next up, city attorney and city administrator positions. Pray with me that a newer and brighter day is coming. It is time Chester moves forward and upward,” Douglas said on Facebook.

Chester had been looking for a new, full-time police chief since Tammy Levister resigned the position in February after just over a year on the job. She cited a number of issues at the time of her departure, including the creation of a standards and training position (that the council later killed) that she saw as usurping the authority of the police chief and certain officers being able to go over her head to get their way on some matters. Since then, Travis Moore, a former captain, has filled the position on an interim basis.

At a May meeting, Councilwoman Annie Reid, chair of the public safety committee, mentioned bringing in a couple of people with a background in law enforcement to help look over applications. She reasoned that those people would know things to look for that members of the council may not, since none has any police experience. She felt that would make for a better, more qualified hire. At a September meeting, she asked fellow council members to bring forward the candidates they were interested in interviewing.

The News and Reporter has requested a list of three finalists for the position (which is must be made available per the state’s Freedom of Information Act) and for a copy of Williams’ resume and credentials.