Chattanooga police officers speak out about search for new chi - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Chattanooga police officers speak out about search for new chief

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Nearly two months has passed since Police Chief Bobby Dodd and a majority of his command staff retired from the Chattanooga Police Department. With a new Violence Reduction Initiative set to launch next month, current officers say they feel both excited and nervous about new leadership at the department.

"We always need to have a captain, somebody to steer the ship so yes we do need a chief," Sgt. Tim Tomisek says.

Tomisek has been with the police department for nearly 13 years and admits Mayor Andy Berke has his critics, especially regarding the pension plan.

"I think everybody kind of went in thinking this is a horrible thing, nobody wanted to look at it, nobody wanted to touch it," explains Tomisek.

However, now with Mayor Berke's promise to fix officers pay many in the department are looking to the next big change, a new chief.

"We have two captains that are acting as assistant chiefs so they really have their hands full," Tomisek says.

"Its a wait and see approach. I think there's a cautious optimism, meanwhile folks are doing their job," Officer Sean O'Brien says.

He says officers are telling the mayor what kind of chief they want.

"We want a leader that has a vision, that can communicate to the men and women of the department and make smart choices, the tough choices and someone that we can follow," explains O'Brien. 

However, it could be a few more weeks before a search committee reviews all of the candidates. It will then present the best ones to the Blue Ribbon Panel which will review and provide feedback on each candidate before the interviews begin, the mayor has the final say.

"What I understand there's not a lot of local applicants so we probably wouldn't know them anyway," Tomisek.

"To this point the mayor has shown that he's behind the men and women in the police department and he's committed to doing us right and I believe that," O'Brien says.

"We all have the same goals in mind and that is to protect the citizens of Chattanooga and the city of Chattanooga," says Tomisek.

The Police Executive Research Forum has received 34 applications so far and have rated the overall quality of the applications as, "high." It will continue to take applications through March, 7.

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