Forum to offer look at police chief candidates

“In a one- or two-block radius, there have been 24 break-ins,” said Alvarado, adding that community leaders have been in constant contact with the Atlanta Police Department about the rash of burglaries.

Still, he and his neighbors are spending thousands of dollars securing their homes and businesses with additional locks, window bars and surveillance cameras.

“There is tension between community people and the police,” said Alvarado, who owns Tea Cakes Bed and Breakfast with his wife. “I pay a significant amount of taxes, and I am not getting a return on my investment.”

Which is why Alvarado is so interested in Thursday night's town hall meeting, where Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed will assemble each of the three candidates for Atlanta police chief for a Q&A with city residents, business owners and civic and community leaders. The forum will begin at 6 p.m. at the Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center.

The very public forum is the near-culmination of what might prove to be Reed’s most important hire.

“I have no higher priority than keeping the citizens of Atlanta safe,” Reed said. “The next chief of police will be my primary partner in honoring this commitment. This town hall meeting is a vital step in making sure we select the right person for this role.”

Reed is considering current interim Chief George Turner for the position, as well as Homeland Security official Cedric L. Alexander and Louisville Police Chief Robert Crump White.

The mayor said he would make his final selection shortly after the forum, but he has not specified a date.

The 2011 fiscal year starts at the beginning of July.

Here are the candidates:

  • Alexander is the director of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Transportation Security Administration at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.
  • Turner is Atlanta’s current interim chief and a 28-year veteran of the force.
  • White is the current chief of the Louisville, Ky., Metro Police Department, and he formerly held the same position in Greensboro, N.C.

“I am expecting the candidates to present their best selves and to make those in attendance feel safe, comfortable and excited about who the new chief will be,” Alvarado said. “It has to be a chief who works on community relations and community trust. He has to show that he has a plan that has been successful. We don’t want somebody coming in with theory, but with actual practical experience. We have a short learning curve.”

Bill Nigut, the regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, and Deidra Dukes of Fox 5, will host the event. Anyone who cannot attend the session can send questions to Reed at mayorreed@atlantaga.gov.

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