Durham News

Durham announces police chief search process

Ousted Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez rebuts critics at press conference

Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez deflected criticism, downplayed critics and said he wasn’t expecting the proposition that led to his forced retirement, during a brief press conference Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015 in Durham, NC.
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Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez deflected criticism, downplayed critics and said he wasn’t expecting the proposition that led to his forced retirement, during a brief press conference Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015 in Durham, NC.

City Manager Tom Bonfield outlined Tuesday a four-month search process for the Bull City’s next police chief.

The timeline includes the city holding two community forums in December – including one for Spanish-speakers – reviewing applications through February and offering the position to someone by early April.

Bonfield selected Durham firm Development Associates to conduct the search to replace Police Chief Jose Lopez, who will retire at the end of the year. The interim police chief will be announced next week, Bonfield said.

Development Associates has conducted several police chief searches and promotion processes throughout the state, including in Winston-Salem, Fayetteville, Greensboro, Raleigh and Charlotte, as well as in Spartanburg, S.C.

The city also turned to the firm for a search that led to the city hiring Deputy City Manager Bo Ferguson, who started in January 2013.

The base cost for the police chief search is $25,000.

The first phase of the recruitment process will start next week. Development Associates will gather information from community stakeholders, including Police Department staff and other city leaders.

In mid-December, the city will hold Police Department staff input sessions along with the two community forums. The public will also be able to provide input online. The online address for feedback and the time and location of the community meetings will be announced by next week, Bonfield said.

National and regional recruitment will occur from mid-December through January, with initial candidate recommendations provided to the city in late January. Applications will be reviewed through February.

Interviews with selected candidates are planned for early March and two to three finalists will be scheduled to meet with the Police Department staff and with the public in late March.

Bonfield, who asked Lopez to step down, said his goal is to offer the position to someone by early April, with the selected candidate starting in May. The new chief’s salary will range between $101,361 and $162,178.

In the final years of Lopez’s eight-year tenure, some community members have criticized the Police Department for focusing on black males in high-crime areas and said such actions have eroded their trust and ability to work with officers and possibly contributed to a recent increase in violent crime. Following the announcement of Lopez’s forced resignation in September, members of the community called for a police chief search process that involved community input.

Bonfield said initial public input will shape the characteristics sought in the future chief.

“That will be informative upfront in terms of developing the profile of the candidates and challenges and those kinds of things,” Bonfield said. “And then the opportunity at the other end certainly will be there.”

Virginia Bridges: 919-829-8924, @virginiabridges

Police input session

As part as an independent assessment of the Durham Police Department, residents are invited to participate in a community input session at 7 p.m. Dec. 3 in City Hall Council Chambers, 101 City Hall Plaza.

The assessment by the International Association of Chiefs of Police will evaluate policing styles, patrol practices and citizen complaint systems, among other matters.

Spanish speaking residents are encouraged to participate in the forum. Translation will be provided.

Individuals can also send comments online via www.surveymonkey.com/r/P6SP2SP through Dec. 12.

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