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Conner to begin new DPD search

Seven months after former Durham police chief Teresa Chambers left her post for a job at the U.S. Park Service in Washington, D.C., the city of Durham has yet to find a permanent replacement.

And now the search for a new chief will begin again. City Manager Marcia Conner announced Thursday morning her decision to reopen the search at a press conference. By prolonging the pursuit, Conner once again rejected the option of simply appointing one-time finalist and local favorite, Interim Chief Steve Chalmers.

Conner announced Chalmers was back in the running Monday, but conerns remain about his record. Chalmers was initially cut from the search in early August after a city-hired search firm said he had been "untruthful" about a 1982 domestic violence arrest.

"I am disappointed that [Conner] did not choose Mr. Chalmers," said City Council member Howard Clement. "I admire her manifesting the courage to make the decision that she made, in light of the fact that a majority of the council would have preferred her to do otherwise."

Chalmers could not be reached for comment.

Conner estimated the search would take about six weeks, but council member John Best said he thinks 90 days is a more realistic estimate. He said that because the city has already conducted an extensive search, the process should run more smoothly.

Best said he recognizes that Conner's decision should not be a hasty one. "[The police chief] is responsible for the safety of this community," he explained. "This position's too important to rush."

Best stressed that he does not think prolonging the search will have a tangible effect on the quality of police enforcement.

Clement said Conner's announcement, which he called "perhaps the most important decision that she will make during her tenure," reflects the fact that the city manager thinks the police department needs a change in leadership that an outside hire would provide.

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