A police chief who lives outside the city will be a clear message that there’s better places to live, Mayor Gary McCarthy said.
“The public will notice a difference. [The chief] is saying there’s better real estate outside the city,” McCarthy said. “I’m looking for a community leader.”
McCarthy noted that there have been reports that he will promote one of the assistant chiefs even if they don’t move here. But he dismissed those reports as inaccurate.
He added that he will not accept a candidate who simply has a second home in the city. The chief also cannot just rent out an apartment and still commute out of the city to his family’s home.
“I would look at a strict definition of residency,” McCarthy said, adding, “You’re there 99 percent of the time.”
“You live there, you sleep there, you mow the lawn, your neighbors know the police chief lives there,” he said. “I own property in Hamilton County. I’ve been there twice this year. I doubt they consider me a resident.”
McCarthy’s priorities will be difficult to enforce. None of the civil service-approved candidates live here. The three assistant chiefs were the only candidates who took a civil service exam for the position.
None of them have told the mayor that they’re willing to move.
But McCarthy is still waiting.
“Whoever I hire will live in the city,” he said. “I get to make the decision. I’m not sure I have to hire someone immediately.”
If he stands his ground, the city might end up without a top cop when Chief Mark Chaires retires on Saturday, Nov. 17.
McCarthy said he’s not worried about going chief-less.
“The garbage is still going to get picked up on Nov. 19. We’re still going to answer police calls. The public will not notice a difference,” he said.
He added that he won’t make Public Safety Commissioner Wayne Bennett the chief — because he, too, does not live in the city.
But Bennett will run the department in the absence of a chief — as he did for nearly a year after Chief Michael Geraci resigned to take a federal job.
Geraci left on Nov. 25, 2007, and Chaires was not appointed until Sept. 18, 2008.
“So this wouldn’t be the first time such a thing has happened,” Bennett said. “While the chief would make things easier ... we have demonstrated in the past that life goes on. Can be done, has been done, and if necessary, could be done again.”