With about 30 years of experience in law enforcement each, the three final candidates for the open Powder Springs police chief position altogether have been fighting crime for roughly a century.
At Monday’s City Council meeting, City Manager Rick Eckert listed the finalists in alphabetical order: Tom Arnold, Jeffery Pearce and Charlie Sewell.
The three were selected from a field of 31 applicants by an independent panel consisting of Kennesaw Police Chief William Westenberger, Marietta Police Chief Dan Flynn, and Gerald Peal, owner of the APeal Agency, which specializes in polygraphs.
“They had a way of rating the … applicants, and they did a very nice job,” Mayor Pat Vaughn said.
The city now has to wait at least 14 days before Eckert can make a nomination that must be approved by the City Council.
“This has been tough,” Eckert said after the meeting, noting that the candidates are “very well qualified people.”
Arnold, a 31-year veteran with the Cobb County Police Department, has been continuing his work with the county while serving as interim chief for the city since early April.
Pearce is an assistant special agent in charge for Atlanta’s division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Sewell, who began his law enforcement career in 1972, retired in December 2005 but returned less than a year later to join the McMinnville (TN) Police Department, where he serves as police chief.
Patch will be reaching out to each of the three candidates, asking them if they would like to write a column introducing themselves and why they would like to become the next Powder Springs police chief.
Eckert said that in roughly a week, the city will host a meet-and-greet session where citizens can talk with the candidates. Officials are planning to have the date, time and location of the meeting posted on the city website soon.
The former chief, L. Rick Richardson, was fired on Feb. 9 after being on leave since late November.
Richardson’s termination letter said he sold two surplus police cars for an undervalued amount directly to the Braswell Police Department in 2007 instead of putting them up for auction, which is required by law for surplus city items. Vaughn later clarified that there was a third car involved.
Also at Monday’s meeting:
- The council approved the qualifying dates—Aug. 30 through Sept. 1—for those wishing to run for an elected position. The current terms of Vaughn and At-Large Council Members Tom Bevirt and Rosalyn Neal are set to expire this year.
- The council approved the purchase of 21 Dell computers for the city at $1,100 a piece.
- Vaughn was approved to sign a leasing agreement with Georgia Power for lighting in the Silver Springs Village community.
- A variance was approved that will result in more trees being planted in a "buffer" between a future development site and nearby residential properties on the 4500 block of Brownsville Road. The plan was presented by Dave Mattson of Brock Investments, who said the current property owner could sell it to Walgreens a few years down the road. A discussion came up about clearing trees currently on the site before an actual business is set to move in, with two residents signing up for public comment in opposition. “As I told (the Planning and Zoning Commission) if approved, this … will only produce yet another dirt field for all to see as they enter the city,” commenter Kirk Wittington said. “As I told them, no assurances from Brock, Walgreens, anybody will prevent the fact that in a short time, the property will look just like Pine Grove. As with that failed development, this grove of trees will be reduced to a muddy, vacant lot.” Mattson said the owner will keep the site looking good so businesses will want to buy it, and if it isn’t kept up with, the city could hand out citations. Council members noted that the variance didn't have anything to do with a developer being lawfully able to clear trees on the lot.
- The second reading of the storm water fee ordinance was approved. Now the fee’s actual amount, likely to be between $2 and $4 a month, must be set by a resolution, which requires one public reading.
- In the pre-council meeting, Vaughn discussed how some comments concerning possible retirement benefits for council members on a previous Patch article did not take in all aspects of the issue and used a 3-year-old actuarial study to come up with the $350,000 cost to the city. “I think it needs clarification that we were just talking and sometimes we have discussions,” she said. “At this time, the council hasn’t voted on anything.”
- Council members voted to dismiss responsibility from a traffic accident near the QuikTrip on Sailors Parkway. A person involved had claimed that the stoplight had turned green before very quickly turning back to red, causing the accident, Vaughn said. “Bottom line is this: They were suing for a malfunctioning stoplight, but it’s not our stoplight,” she said, mentioning that the Cobb County Department of Transportation oversees them.
- The Breakfast with the Mayor and City Council events, including the one this Saturday, have been moved to Off the Bone BBQ following the closure of Bailey’s Diner.