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Conner picks Scott for chief

Nine months, two rounds of searching, six finalists and multiple domestic abuse allegations later, the city of Durham finally has a new chief of police.

Durham City Manager Marcia Conner named M. Douglas Scott the city's new chief of police Wednesday night.

"I am confident that we have chosen the best person to lead Durham as we seek to make our city one of the safest in the state," she said in a statement. "Scott was outstanding at every point during the interview process, with the assessors, with police department employees and with the citizens."

Scott, 45, currently serves as assistant inspector general of the U.S. Department of the Interior. He will begin serving as chief Dec. 1 with an annual salary of $108,000.

Mayor Bill Bell said it is too early to say what Scott's selection will mean for the police department and the city of Durham.

"I'm confident that the manager's done the best she could do," he said.

Bell said that in addition to performing background checks, Conner talked to insiders who spoke very highly of Scott.

"I think he's going to bring a lot to this department," said City Council member John Best. "[Scott's] experience with the local, state and federal level is going to be a big asset for Durham."

Scott served as head of both the Fairfax County Police Department--Virginia's largest police force--and the smaller Fairfax City Police Department prior to working for the Department of the Interior.

"I am ready to dive into the issues facing the community, and to take the department to a level of success to make it the best police department in the state," he said in a statement.

At a forum for the three finalists earlier this week, Scott emphasized the importance of working with the community to prevent crime. He also discussed the importance of curbing gang violence through a combination of education and enforcement.

Best said Scott will be a good fit with the current police department. "A lot of the police officers... told me during this process they supported Scott," he said.

Interim Chief Steven Chalmers is also supportive of Scott and will continue to serve the police department, Bell said, though the mayor did not have information regarding what role Chalmers will assume in December.

At Monday's City Council meeting, Conner announced the elimination of one of the three finalists, Henry Evans, commander of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation for the Newport News, Va., Police Department. The other remaining finalist Charles Austin, an assistant city manager of Columbia, S.C., withdrew his name from consideration.

Scott's selection concludes the city's second search for a police chief since the position was vacated Feb. 1. The first search ended in August after domestic abuse allegations surfaced about two of the finalists. Although Conner came under fire for the mishap, she was allowed to continue directing the search process.

"We're looking forward to [Scott] coming on board and [are] wishing him much success," Bell said.


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