A majority of Glynn County Commissioners voted to hire the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police to manage the search for a new Glynn County Police Department chief, leaving those backing an alternate proposal feeling snubbed.

Current Chief Jay Wiggins announced earlier this month he is retiring at the end of January.

According to a letter from the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police (GACP) to county manager Alan Ours, evaluating candidates costs around $900 each and the county can expect a selection of eight to 10 candidates.

GACP wasn’t the only agency to pitch the service. The National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, or NOBLE, indicated it could do the same work for $10,000 with the bill footed by The Initiative, which bills itself as “advancing the blue and Black partnership”; the Mercer Group pitched its services for a base charge of $17,500 and reimbursement for some incurred expenses; and a letter from Slavin Management Consultants included a charge of just over $15,200.

NOBLE’s proposal was unique, said Ours, because it was brought to the commission by The Initiative, a Washington, D.C., based nonprofit devoted to advocating for and implementing community policing across the U.S. The Initiative would also pay NOBLE’s $10,000 fee.

Ours suggested the commission go with the GACP due to its deep roots in Georgia law enforcement and the depth of expertise from other police chiefs brought into the candidate search process.

“The reason why I’m recommending that is because of their understanding of Georgia, our state, their understanding of what Glynn County has been through in the last couple of years, especially in the last year in our police department, and their testing methods,” Ours said.

GACP would promote the job nationally and through a wide variety of law enforcement organizations, including through NOBLE. Candidates selected by GACP would spend a day at the association’s office in Canton, where they would undergo oral and written tests and interviews conducted by other police chiefs.

The county would then review those tests and interviews, select a handful of finalists and conduct their own interviews.

A search will take 90 to 120 days no matter who the county hires, Ours said.

At-large Commissioner David O’Quinn said the county’s Police Advisory Panel, on which he serves as a member, largely supports the GACP due for the same reasons Ours did.

Not all agreed, however.

District 5 Commissioner Allen Booker, whose district is almost entirely within the Brunswick city limits, said hiring NOBLE would be the only way to be sure Glynn County would get a diverse selection of prospects that are qualified to enact a strong community policing system.

Further, he felt the GACP membership’s deep entrenchment in law enforcement would be a detriment, as it would be more likely to select candidates with a traditional “warrior” mindset, as opposed to the ground-level cooperative policing the county is looking to foster.

Rather than relying on the state chiefs association or NOBLE, District 2 Commissioner Cap Fendig said it is incumbent on the commission to pick the right candidate.

A motion from Fendig to hire GACP to conduct the search passed 5-2, commissioners O’Quinn, Fendig, Sammy Tostensen, Bill Brunson and Chairman Wayne Neal voting in favor and Booker and at-large commissioner Walter Rafolski opposing it.

Booker was not the only one unhappy with the decision.

When asked outside the courthouse following the vote, A Better Glynn co-founder Bobby Henderson said he viewed the decision as just a continuation of the disregard for vulnerable groups in the county.

As soon as members of his organization heard rumors in September that Wiggins was planning to retire soon, A Better Glynn contacted The Initiative and had a proposal from NOBLE on the commissioners’ desks by the next month.

Commissioners talked a big game about prioritizing community policing in their search for a new chief, he said, but they turned down an offer from an organization built on the practice. A proposal that included footing the bill in the county’s stead, no less.

In other business, commissioners gave their blessing to an organization working with the College of Coastal Georgia on a local broadband internet expansion plan and continued discussing a proposed Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax 2021 projects list.

Find this story online at thebrunswicknews.com to read the most recent proposed projects list.

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