December 13, 2018 10:35:08 AM
Columbus Police Department will go a little longer without an assistant chief after the background check of the latest preferred candidate disqualified him from consideration.
Police Chief Fred Shelton confirmed to The Dispatch on Wednesday there would be no hire from a recent field of applicants and the process for filling the position is stalled.
This comes after a public announcement from Shelton in November that a hire was expected this month.
"I did select a candidate, but the background investigation did not pan out," Shelton said. "It wasn't suitable for what we needed."
Six initially applied for the post after it was advertised in the fall -- including two internal candidates and one from another law enforcement agency in Columbus. An out-of-state candidate later withdrew his name from consideration, multiple city officials said.
After interviewing the remaining five applicants, Shelton said he and the hiring committee selected one of the non-local prospects as the preferred candidate.
Starkville Police Department completed the background check, which unearthed pertinent information the applicant didn't disclose during the interview.
"With a position like this, since it's administration, we normally get an outside agency for the background checks rather than do it ourselves," Shelton said.
The chief said he did not select an alternate choice from the applicant field, adding the city's human resources department notified all applicants this week that they would not be hired.
Mayor Robert Smith told The Dispatch it's unlikely the city will advertise again for the position for at least several months.
The assistant chief job pays $66,000 annually.
Columbus hired Edrick Hall in May as assistant police chief following a previous advertisement requesting applications. He began work July 8 but resigned two weeks later, citing "family issues," before returning to his previous position as Indianola police chief.
Before that, Shelton served almost two years as either assistant chief or interim police chief before being promoted to chief in January.
Though Shelton said it's been "a challenge" to be without an assistant chief for so long, he isn't in a rush to fill the position.
"I want to make sure we get the most suitable candidate," he said. "Not having an assistant chief means I don't ever really get a break, but we have two good captains -- one in investigation (Stacey Deans) and one in patrol (Rick Higgins) -- who are stepping up and helping out when they can."
Zack Plair is the managing editor for The Dispatch.
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