The search for a chief: Nathaniel Clark


Devin Golden



Nathaniel Clark has been through the interview process before.


He was an applicant and one of the four finalists for the Columbus police chief position in 2007 when the council voted to appoint Joseph St. John.


Clark was since hired by the Albany Police Department in 2008 as the director of the Office of Professional Standards and currently holds the deputy chief position. He became interim deputy chief in December 2008 and permanent deputy chief in December 2009. Clark previously served as a criminal investigator with the Fulton County District Attorney's Office from 2004-2008, worked in the U.S. Department of Treasury from 2003-2004 and held the title of police chief in Pine Bluff, Ark., from 2000-2002.



Clark was fired from his police chief position by the Pine Bluff Civil Service Commission in August 2002 due to "allegations against him of sexual harassment," according to a 2003 article in the Conway, Ark.-based Log Cabin Democrat. The story also reads that Clark filed a lawsuit in federal court against the city for racial discrimination.


According to Clark, his dismissal from the department later "was rescinded" and his record "was cleared."


"And I have documentation to back that up, and I retired in good standing," Clark said in a phone interview Saturday.


Clark clarified that the litigation "was dropped."


"I wanted to ensure that I walked into the door with a clear name and walked out the door with a clear name," he said.


Thelma Walker, a current Pine Bluff alderwoman, served on the Pine Bluff Civil Service Commission during the allegations. She confirmed Clark's claim and said "his record was cleared."


After ending his time in Pine Bluff, Clark worked for the U.S. Department of Treasury, and again affirmed his rescinded termination.


"When you work for the government, they do a comprehensive background check and I received my clearance from the federal government," he said.


The time spent in Pine Bluff, along with his other career stops, has given the Pine Bluff-native investigating experience in all types of crimes.


"We have to be mindful, not only in homicides, but any and all criminal activities that take place," he said, noting engaging the community is key not only in solving crime but keeping crime away and "one homicide is too many."


"We have to do more than eradicate. We have to educate the entire community in our law enforcement efforts."


"We have to build that bridge and continue to include the community to eradicate the criminal activity."


Clark has learned a lot in the four-year span since he interviewed chief job in 2007, and Albany's crime rate is "on the decline now."


"There's numerous things I've done in that span. And I say, 'I,' but I mean, 'We.' I have to give credit also to those under my command," he said. "It's a team concept."


Clark said he has enjoyed working in Albany and "can't say anything but good things about the city that I reside in now."


"Columbus is, in my opinion, a progressive city," he said. "Being mindful that the Albany Police Department and the citizens of Albany are good to me. They have allowed me the opportunity to serve. I'm blessed that God has allowed me the opportunity to cross paths with the citizens of Albany.


The Columbus police chief position pays a salary between $70,000-$75,000 annually. Clark chose not to discuss the specifics of his current pay and its comparison to the Columbus police chief pay.


"Finances are important, but sometimes it's not all about finances. That's a factor, but sometimes you have to weigh other factors," Clark said, but didn't go into detail about the other factors.


Clark, who has one daughter, earned a Bachelor's degree in criminal justice from the University of Pine Bluff in Arkansas and a Master's degree in Public Administration from Webster's University in Jacksonville, Ark.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city of Albany reported a population of 77,434 in 2010, and the city of Pine Bluff reported a population of 55,085 in 2000. Columbus reported a population of 23,640 in 2010.





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