HITCHCOCK

Hitchcock commissioners are making quick work of hiring a new police chief, with interviews with the two finalists for the job scheduled for 2 p.m. during a special meeting today.

The two finalists, which the city has declined to reveal and will be interviewed during an executive session scheduled for the meeting today, were picked from a pool of candidates that commissioners hashed out during a special meeting on Tuesday. These include Wilmon Smith, Donald Rhodes and Landis Garrison.

The city declined to provide additional details about the applicants and didn’t respond to a Daily News records request asking for documents, including resumes or applications, related to their hiring.

An internet search shows that a Donald Rhodes is police chief in Silsbee, Texas, and a Landis Garrison is chief of police in Ripley, Tennessee. A Wilmon Smith, who works as a lieutenant for the Texas Department of Public Safety in the Houston area, is listed as a search result for that name.

The city needs to hire a police chief before early February because of a state rule that requires an interim police chief can only serve in a temporary role for 180 days without being hired on permanently, Hitchcock Mayor Pro-tem Randy Strickland said.

Interim Police Chief Michael Allen filled that temporary role after Mayor Dorothy Childress fired former Police Chief John Hamm in August.

“We’re going as fast as we can,” Strickland said. “We need to get a new chief in that position.”

Interviews for a new city administrator, a position that isn’t affected by the same deadline that police chief is, haven’t been scheduled yet but are expected in the coming month, officials said. The semi-finalist candidates for that position are Jonathan Batt, Marie Gelles, Larry Kuciemba and Harold Emrich.

Despite violations of Texas’ open meeting rules, commissioners have declined to reveal the finalists they decided on in a closed-door executive session during Tuesday’s special meeting. Childress said it came down to the privacy of the candidates.

“We’ve agreed to respect privacy within the color of the law that we’re aware of,” she said. “That’s why the names haven’t been divulged until the other day when I gave the names of the three finalists. As of that meeting, that’s all I feel like is necessary. We’re going to have the meeting on Friday and might be making another announcement after that.”

Aaron West: 409-683-5246; aaron.west@galvnews.com

Reporter

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