Snead interviews three of its own for police chief spot

While the printed agenda for Snead’s special called Thursday night meeting listed interviews with four applicants for the town’s vacant police chief position, councilors confirmed that Oneonta officer Steve Gunn had earlier withdrawn his name from consideration. The three remaining candidates, Kristen Bearden, Anthony Grigsby, and Kerry Randall, all currently serve on the town’s police force.

Grigsby works as a part-time investigator following his previous retirement from another force. He submitted an application when the town first advertised the position. Randall revealed he has 15 years of experience in law enforcement, 12 at Snead, and that he works primarily the night shift. Bearden, said she has “been on the road over 13 years,” and has served in Snead as a part-time officer. Bearden and Randall submitted their applications after a previously selected candidate declined the position, a motion to appoint Grigsby failed for lack of a second, and the council advertised again for applications.

Councilor Ann Sullins, appointed by Mayor La’Shone Price as the police council contact person, began each interview. She indicated the council would take candidates alphabetically, and Price asked applicants to remain outside while other contenders answered questions.

As in the first round of interviews held on Feb. 22, Sullins indicated a continued concern over contingency plans should Snead duty officers be called for out-of-town agency assistance. In summary, Bearden said she would hope the town would hire additional officers so that situation would never happen. She also stipulated that she believed any such call should be limited to a “very hot situation.”

Randall said that it would be best if the officer could be back quickly. He noted, however, that there are some occasions when there is no way around that eventuality. Councilman Greg Ogles asked would Randall be willing to come in to fill in, to which Randall assented.

Grigsby said he would expect the officer to notify him of the reason for the request and that he would “get up and head this way.” He elaborated that should another officer be in a position for a faster response than Grigsby, then he would expect him to come first.

Councilor Phillip McHan and Ogles asked similarly themed questions addressing visions in the next five years and goals. Bearden indicated she would hope to build an environment where officers would want to stay and rebuild a sense of community within the force.

Grigsby referred to his prior interview answers and re-emphasized his desire for community orientation. He spoke of regular police visits to check on the elderly and those living alone. He expressed a desire to provide fraud education sessions at the senior center, increased daytime burglary patrols, an added emphasis to bad check prosecutions, and a more visible presence at local businesses.

Randall spoke of his desire to see that officers have what they need, that repairs be made in a timely manner, and that officers receive the training they need. Prodded of areas where he might see the need for improvement, Randall listed, having night shift officers in swing shifts, identifying and addressing areas of highest volume crimes, providing officers with alarm codes or keys, and making officers more visible in the community.

Councilman Tim Kent, who works for the sheriff’s department and served at one time as a school resource officer, town mayor, and earlier as the local police chief, posed questions about training. He asked Randall, specifically, of his evaluation of the state required 12 CEUs (Continuing Education Units).

Randall said he felt the 12 hours adequate unless a particular officer needed additional. Asked to elaborate on that, Randall spoke of drug interdiction and domestic violence as possible areas for further education.

While he had the floor, Kent asked of Randall’s lack of administrative experience. Randall said he felt that would not be a hindrance, since he knew other chiefs whom he could consult and that he is a quick learner.

Again, addressing specific questions to Randall, Kent asked of the number of firearms qualifications. Randall said APOST (Alabama Police Officer Standards and Training) says once a year; he would recommend twice unless expense for that proved a problem. He also endorsed the need for night time qualification.

As to the 12 CEUs, Bearden responded to a question from Kent saying she would hope officers would want more than the minimum number and that some courses are available at no cost. She also spoke of considerable changes in domestic call treatments and said she would advise her guys to go for further instruction there.

McHan asked Randall and Grigsby to comment on the school D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program. Grigsby advised that the Snead Police Department is not involved in that, but he felt the department should offer whatever help it could to the related sheriff’s department programs. Randall said he felt the program had been of benefit and that he would support it or any similar effort.

Sullins asked the two of their support for council-adopted policies and procedures. Grigsby said he would support and follow those and make sure all of his officers had copies and knowledge of them. Randall agreed to Sullins question of his willingness to familiarize himself and his officers with those and follow them until changed.

Kent addressed Randall on “hot pursuits.” The officer said such may be necessary at times. Asked of “how far officers should go” and specifically in relation to a missing “headlight,” Randall said that if one has a missing headlight and attempts to flee at an attempted stop, by his experience there are greater problems than the headlight. He also said that should officers be in pursuit of a drunk driver, that person needs to be stopped before he does damage to other innocent travelers.

While questioning touched on various other matters, the above presents an edited version of most. Councilman Dale Snead was absent for the March 29 interviews. Price thanked each applicant and promised to be back in touch soon.