ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – The search for a new Abilene Chief of Police will take at least until the end of 2023. That’s the word from City Manager Robert Hanna as he and APD Director of Public Safety Troy Riggs addressed the public Thursday afternoon.
“The rest of this calendar year for certain… I am not going to rush this decision,” Hanna said.
This public media briefing was called as a part of the City and APD’s commitment to transparency in this search process. Hanna stated back in March that they would be openly communicating with the public throughout the search.
“My goal is to hire the best person qualified for that position. Man, woman, internal, external,” said Hanna.
Riggs kicked off the meeting by sharing the results of a department-wide survey they conducted to discern what characteristics their staff and officers are looking for in the next chief.
The results were taken from anonymous essays written and submitted by more than 90 APD staffers and officers. Riggs said one topic that came up in many of those entries was the need for better training of mid-level management. He shared that while the search may not be ending soon, training is one task they can handle in the meantime.
“That training is going to take place August the second and August the ninth, so you’re already seeing actionable items coming out of this survey,” Riggs said.
Back in the search, the next task will be forming a search committee. Hanna stated that he is in the process of bringing together a group that has the city’s and the department’s best interests at heart.
“I anticipate to know who the members are by the end of July. I’m starting to make phone calls right now. I’ve already got one person who’s agreed to do it,” Hanna explained.
Hanna did later touch on the length of the search and shared that he is aware that not everyone is happy with the speed at which things are progressing.
“I had a citizen tell me that there are many people in the community that are mad at me for that. And I said, well when they’ve got twenty-two years of being city manager, they can make those decisions. But I’m doing what I think is right for this department. I’m doing what’s right for this community in the sense that we want to find the man or woman who is best qualified to fill that role. It is not something that you want to rush. This is too important a position just to sprint through. But we’re not lollygagging either,” Hanna stated.
While the committee has yet to be formed, they will have a large task ahead. They are searching for the new chief not only from local prospects but from a national pool of possible candidates.
“Just from what I’ve heard people talking, there is interest internally amongst some people to apply for that position,” said Hanna.
“This department’s big enough and complicated enough to attract some of the brightest individuals in law enforcement across this nation,” commented Riggs.
Riggs and Hanna concluded the briefing by stating their full confidence in Interim Chief Doug Wren and the staff surrounding him to carry out the office faithfully as the search continues.