January 3, 2018 12:11:08 PM
Count us among those who breathed a sigh of relief with the city council's choice of Fred Shelton as police chief Tuesday evening.
Shelton's promotion to the job was unexpected only in its manner.
There was no indication the city would address the chief position prior to the council meeting. The chief position was not listed on the council agenda for the meeting. The council chose to take up the matter in executive session, voting unanimously to appoint Shelton as the city's third chief in 26 months.
Shelton will replace Oscar Lewis, who retired at the end of year.
It's not the first time Shelton has been placed in charge of the department. He served as interim chief after the resignation of Tony Carleton in November, 2015 and, most recently, since the retirement of Lewis.
Shelton was one of three finalist for the chief position in January, 2016, a job that ultimately went to Lewis.
We felt Shelton was the man for the job then. We believe he is the right choice for the job now.
Since he joined the CPD in 1983, Shelton, 59, has developed a knowledge of the department no other candidate could boast, having worked his way through the ranks form corporal to sergeant to lieutenant to captain to assistant chief.
But perhaps his finest moment came in days immediately following the officer-involved shooting death of Ricky Ball on Oct. 16, 2015, an event that shocked and angered the black community.
While Carleton, who resigned two weeks after the shooting, was nowhere to be seen in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, it was Shelton who stepped forward to calm fears and diffuse the anger during a memorable town meeting at Hunt School just a few days after the shooting. His calm, reassuring voice was exactly what the community needed in those critical days following the shooting.
Shelton has remained accessible to the public and the media ever since, an important quality in the job of building trust between the department and the community. That openness and Shelton's cheerful demeanor will facilitate the all-important dialogue necessary for effective law enforcement.
His long years of uninterrupted service to the city in the police department removes all doubt about his commitment to the job he now holds and to the citizens of our community.
Shelton is the steady leader our police department needs.
Though his elevation to the position came with little fanfare, we believe Shelton is the right man at the right time to lead our police department.
Godspeed, Chief Shelton.
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