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Give new police chiefs a chance to shine

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For the last two weeks, I watched social media in two towns erupt in either words of congratulations or words of anger over the choice of their new police chiefs.

The main complaint I saw was “this person should have gotten it because they have been so loyal for so many years that they deserve the position.” Those posts usually went on to attack the town manager, town board, the process by which the selection was made and in some cases all three.

Both of these towns hired qualified candidates, both of these towns hired good men to lead their departments. Both of these towns vetted their candidates and went through a selection process to choose the best-qualified candidate. Hiring a candidate for the chief’s position based on loyalty is called the good old boy system — and that never turns out well.

I have not seen anyone’s resume, I have not reviewed anyone’s credentials or qualifications against what each town requires — and I am venturing a guess that nobody else outside of a selection committee or anyone involved in a closed session to discuss personnel issues did either.

I don’t know the officer several people in Nashville wanted to have that job, but I do know that you got an overqualified candidate to fill it, one whose credentials I would put up against any metro-area police chief in the entire state. Let the man show you how good he is at this job and I think you will see that you have the right guy. He has done great things in Spring Hope and we hated to see him go. Our loss is your gain, and if you get behind him, you will see good things happen.

I have also heard the squawking in Spring Hope about the position here not being posted publicly; folks, it doesn’t have to be. The state and federal governments fill positions internally every single day by letting all the qualified internal candidates know about the opening and allowing them to apply. If no candidate is successful, the position then goes public.

That is what happened here. There was a vetting process and a review board from outside the town to determine who, if anyone, would be recommended. The hiring and firing of town employees in Spring Hope is at the discretion of the town manager, not the town council. That is how a manager-run town government works, and Spring Hope’s town manager has that spelled out in his contract that the town council approved when it hired him.

So no matter what anyone says, that process was fair and legal. I am not familiar enough with any of the candidates’ credentials to weigh in with an opinion on the final selection — but I am going to support the man chosen for the job because, like it or not, he is Spring Hope’s police chief, and we owe him the chance to show what he can do.

When it comes to the social media garbage, let me start by saying this: Grow up. Some of the comments look like they walked straight out of a middle school hallway; only they were coming from fortysomething adults. There will never be a position of that caliber filled that doesn’t upset some folks, but trashing the guy picked before he even starts is just plain childish. He just applied for and got a job that he wanted, the same as any of the rest of us would do.

These are good men. Give them the chance do the job before you cut them or the process by which they were hired down so publicly. If you still don’t like what your town is doing next year, then voice that frustration at a ballot box, because that is the only place your voice truly matters.

Mark Cone is owner and operator of SouthernNashNews.com.

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