Members of the public have a chance to weigh in on Tuscaloosa's search for a new police chief.

An online survey asks citizens to rank the qualities they want to see in the next chief and provide input about their public safety concerns. Mayor Walt Maddox expects to fill the position by early next year.

“We felt this would be the best opportunity to go out and get community input,” he said Tuesday.

This will be Maddox's second police chief hire in 11 years.

The law enforcement climate has changed since Anderson was selected in 2008 to replace longtime Police Chief Ken Swindle, and Maddox said he’s looking for a candidate who reflects that.

“The dynamics are different. The responsibilities, I’d argue, are different. And I’ll be looking for a chief to manage all of that,” Maddox said. “My personal preference would be to go internal, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t go outside.

“I just want to find the best man or woman to lead the department and lead it in a season of change, because we’re definitely in a season of change.”

The chief’s position, which has been vacant since Tuscaloosa Police Chief Steve Anderson stepped down on Aug. 30, will be posted on the city’s website for applications starting Wednesday and will remain open until Dec. 31.

The salary will range from $99,015 to $131,388.

“The police chief is probably going to be the highest profile position within the city,” Maddox said. “They’ll earn every single dime.”

A seven-member hiring team made up of city officials, police officers and a member of the Fraternal Order of Police will conduct the first round of interviews of potential candidates in January. Maddox will conduct interviews in February.

Later that month, the candidates also will meet with teams of police officers, much as the fire chief applicants did in the lead-up to the hiring of Randy Smith as chief of the Tuscaloosa Fire and Rescue Service in June 2018.

“I’m really interested in listening to our men and women in uniform about what they want to see in their new police chief,” Maddox said.

All of this is expected to culminate with the selection and hiring of a new chief in March.

 

Reach Jason Morton at jason.morton@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0200.