01/04/11 — Fremont starting interviews for police chief

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Fremont starting interviews for police chief

By Steve Herring
Published in News on January 4, 2011 1:57 PM

FREMONT -- Fremont officials this week will begin interviewing nine of the 17 people who have applied for the job of police chief and the town board could be ready to act on the appointment by the end of the month.

The office has been vacant since Nov. 28 when former chief R.K. Rawlings resigned to go to work for a private contractor in Afghanistan, where he will train Afghan police officers.

Sgt. Teresa Quinn, who has been with the department since August 2008, is serving as interim chief. She has 17 years of experience in law enforcement.

The department has four full-time and four part-time officers and an operating budget of $245,000.

Town Administrator Kerry McDuffie declined to comment on whether Ms. Quinn was among those applicants to be interviewed.

"It would be inappropriate to start naming names," he said. "Sgt. Quinn is the interim chief and she is doing a good job."

McDuffie said that "a lot" is going on in the town -- the most recent being a New Year's Day murder.

"Our department made the arrest and was right on top of it," he said.

McDuffie also had praise for the Wayne County Sheriff's Office and Pikeville Police Department for their help in the case.

"I am pleased with the performance of the department, but we are ready to be back to a full staff," he said.

The interviews will be conducted by a town board committee of McDuffie, Mayor Devone Jones and Commissioners W.T. Smith and Leroy Ruffin.

McDuffie said the first round of interviews will be brief to allow committee members to become better acquainted with the applicants.

"I realize that is packing a lot into one week. We will probably select two or three or four that we will recommend to the full board for more intensive interviews then go from there.

"We are trying to expedite the process, but at the same time be thorough. We got a good chief the last time and hopefully we will get a another one this time. The second round (interviews) will be longer and more in depth."

McDuffie said those interviews would probably start within two weeks to give those who make the initial cut some time to prepare.

"I have the authority to hire a police chief, but I have enough sense to know not to leave the council out of the process," he said. "If we can extend the offer by the end of the month that will be good. We might not be able to, but that is what we hope."

The timetable also will include a pre-employment polygraph test, something the town requires for all of its law enforcement officers.

According to the town's advertisement for applications, candidates for the job must have at least five years of "strong technical and leadership" experience in law enforcement in a "multi-cultural community." They also must be a North Carolina certified law enforcement officer. The starting salary will be "about" $45,390, according to the ad.

Candidates must have a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, public or business administration or a related field or an equivalent combination of education and experience.