ANNOTATED: Athens-Clarke County Manager Hopes to Hire Police Chief by End of Year

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It’s been a month since former Athens-Clarke County Police Chief Scott R. Freeman resigned and Mike Hunsinger was named interim chief. Now, a national search for a permanent chief is underway.

Grady Newsource Reporter Janie Bohlmann obtained documents after Freeman’s resignation that show issues had been ongoing in the department.

“At the end of the day it wasn’t any one thing, it was an aggregate of many different things,” Blaine Williams, the county manager for Athens-Clarke county, said about Freeman’s resignation.

Williams cited attrition rates, department morale and officer safety in a letter to Freeman before his resignation. Williams is now looking for a permanent chief who understands the community.

Williams told us about the process of finding a new chief and what the community can expect. The county manager is in charge of hiring and firing of all department heads according to the county charter.

“It’s not your everyday Georgia community, were special here and we’re going to need the right person to lead the police,” Williams said.

Though Williams makes the final decision on who’s hired, he does take input from experts.

Representative from the International Association of Chiefs of Police will lead a shortlist of candidates through various simulations and then advise Williams and others who make up an interview panel.

If all runs smoothly, Williams hopes to have a permanent chief soon.

“I hope to name a chief by the end of the year,” Williams said.

Williams also said they’re taking an extra step by asking a focus group what qualities they’d like to see in the next chief. He said even though it is the manager’s decision, these perspectives help him make an informed decision.

Janie Bohlmann is a senior majoring in journalism.

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  • Grady Capstone Journalist

    It’s been a month since former Athens-Clarke County Police Chief Scott R. Freeman resigned and Mike Hunsinger was named interim chief.Janie Bohlmann: “I went to a town hall meeting held by a couple local groups and Interim Chief Mike Hunsinger showed up and was on a panel there. People were asking what’s the future of policing in this county. It’s really important to a lot of people, at least from the people I talked to and interviewed. They had known Freeman and had pretty good relationships with him. So then they were confused and felt kind of kept in the dark as well.”

  • Grady Capstone Journalist

    Grady Newsource Reporter Janie Bohlmann obtained documents after Freeman’s resignation that show issues had been ongoing in the department.Janie Bohlmann: “I never filed an open records request before so I had to figure out how to do that. I submitted it through this online form … it wasn’t through the police department, I think it was through Athens-Clarke County. I submitted that and then got a call a couple of hours later and they’re like this is really vague, what exactly do you want? I was like right, it’s vague because I’ve no clue what to ask for. So the woman told me they were doing a resignation packet with a bunch of documents because a lot of people had been requesting those. She said she could approve me if I wanted the documents and would approve me and get me access. Those are all on an online portal. So I combed through a lot of those.”

  • Grady Capstone Journalist

    “At the end of the day it wasn’t any one thing, it was an aggregate of many different things,”Janie Bohlmann: In reference to the documents, “It was very interesting to see exit interviews for people who had left and their comments polled about a wide variety of things like morale, low attrition rates and being short staffed … there were also comments about the PIO (Public Information Officer), who a few weeks ago was fired. Kind of interesting how it all unfolded.”

  • Grady Capstone Journalist

    Grady Newsource Reporter Janie Bohlmann obtained documents after Freeman’s resignation that show issues had been ongoing in the department.Janie Bohlmann: “I never filed an open records request before so I had to figure out how to do that. I submitted it through this online form through Athens-Clarke County. Then I got a call a couple of hours later and they’re like this is really vague, what exactly do you want? I was like right, it’s vague because I’ve no clue what to ask for. So the woman told me they were doing a resignation packet with a bunch of documents because a lot of people had been requesting those. She got me access to them … on an online portal. So I combed through a lot of those.”

  • Grady Capstone Journalist

    “At the end of the day it wasn’t any one thing, it was an aggregate of many different things,”Janie Bohlmann, in reference to the documents: “It was very interesting to see exit interviews for people who had left and their comments polled about a wide variety of things like morale, low attrition rates and being short staffed … there were also comments about the PIO (Public Information Officer), who a few weeks ago was fired. Kind of interesting how it all unfolded.”

  • Grady Capstone Journalist

    Williams also said they’re taking an extra step by asking a focus group what qualities they’d like to see in the next chief.Janie Bohlmann: “The focus group was going to come from the Carl Vinson Institute and they’ve been some people that the police department had worked with in the past … but basically they just wanted their feedback on what they were looking for in a police chief. [00:09:44][14.7]
    [15.0]

  • Grady Capstone Journalist

    Williams also said they’re taking an extra step by asking a focus group what qualities they’d like to see in the next chief.Janie Bohlmann: “The focus group was going to come from the Carl Vinson Institute and they’ve been some people that the police department had worked with in the past … but basically they just wanted their feedback on what they were looking for in a police chief.”

  • Grady Capstone Journalist

    Grady Newsource Reporter Janie Bohlmann obtained documents after Freeman’s resignation that show issues had been ongoing in the department.Janie Bohlmann: “I never filed an open records request before so I had to figure out how to do that. I submitted it through this online form through Athens-Clarke County. Then I got a call a couple of hours later and they’re like this is really vague, what exactly do you want … so the woman told me they were doing a resignation packet with a bunch of documents because a lot of people had been requesting those. She got me access to them … on an online portal. So I combed through a lot of those.”

  • Grady Capstone Journalist

    “It’s not your everyday Georgia community, were special here and we’re going to need the right person to lead the police,” Williams said.Janie Bohlmann: “He (Blaine Williams) said this is a college town and you have a bunch of students here, but you also have a community within that … it’s different and it’s not like most US counties or towns.”

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