Editorial – Community input on search for police chief welcomed

Published 5:47 pm Tuesday, April 2, 2024

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In October, when Suffolk Police Chief Al Chandler announced his abrupt retirement, city manager Al Moor did not hesitate to name an interim replacement, which made complete sense. The last thing you need is uncertainty among law enforcement’s ranks.

Moor selected the person he felt was best to fill the role temporarily, with the possibility of becoming permanent. Enter James “Danny” Buie, who has served the Suffolk Police Department in many capacities and through many decades — during the good and not-so-good times. The move to elevate Buie made sense, and removing the interim tag makes sense, too. 

Buie is a Suffolk native, and if you talk with him, he will make it clear that he loves this community — he is invested, which says a lot about who he is. 

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Extending the search to external candidates nationwide is also a good idea.

A fresh perspective is sometimes necessary to help move forward. SPD’s direction could be more active and progressing, but a vision from another lens may make a difference.

Considering all candidates allows the city to make the right long-term decisions for the department.

To that end, the city has launched a community survey to gather thoughts, perspectives, and preferences regarding the essential characteristics and qualities desired by the new police chief. They also provided a similar survey to the members of SPD to gain their insights.

This is an excellent way to determine what the community and department personnel value most in a leader. If used properly, that data will help guide the search firm Raftelis in culling the list of applicants.

We want to offer a few traits we feel are important in a police chief. First, this person should have the experience to lead through the changing policing landscape. They must be forward-thinking and transparent, possess the ability to mentor, and have integrity.

The city has yet to say how long this process will take, but it has been seven months since Chandler retired. It is time to hire a new chief or remove Buie’s interim tag.