April 18, 2014 10:35:16 AM
Sarah Fowler - [email protected]
The Columbus Police Department is looking for a new chief.
Mayor Robert Smith said Chief Selvain McQueen relinquished his vehicle and uniform late Thursday afternoon and announced his retirement. In a press conference Thursday evening, Smith said McQueen had been considering retirement for a while.
"He's been contemplating since he's been on vacation, but this afternoon when I talked to him he said he wanted to make it official," Smith said.
McQueen, who has been with the department since 1988 and became chief in 2011, has been on vacation for the past two weeks. He earned $70,000 a year as chief. He did not return calls seeking comment.
The Dispatch reported in February that McQueen had filed initial retirement paperwork, but he did not submit his official letter of retirement until Thursday.
Ward 5 Councilman Kabir Karriem said he was shocked by the announcement of McQueen's retirement.
"I wish him well in all his endeavors but I wish the mayor and council could have gotten a heads up that he was going to be leaving so soon," Karriem said. "As of right now, there's no clear person in charge of the police department."
Other city officials -- Chief Operations Officer David Armstrong and Human Resources Director Pat Mitchell -- also said they were unaware of McQueen's plans to retire.
Smith said Assistant Chief Joe Johnson, who has been running the department while McQueen was on vacation, would unofficially be in charge until he and the council can appoint an interim chief. A special meeting of the council will be called next week, Smith said.
Smith said he hopes to first look inside the department for McQueen's replacement.
"The reason why I would like to look inside first is to give the guys that work within the department the opportunity for the job," the mayor said. "Then if for some reason, the mayor and council does not think we can hire from inside, we'll go outside. But I think we have some capable people within the department that could do a good job for us."
Karriem agreed with Smith.
"I believe we have some good folks inside and we'll start looking from within," he said.
Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.