Search for chief could be lengthy

May. 04, 2013 @ 02:35 PM

Ray Griffin, the city manager of Henderson, said he didn’t sleep much on Thursday night.

That was the day Keith Sidwell handed him his resignation as the city’s police chief. Griffin will continue to be challenged to get sleep between now and New Year’s Day.

That’s about how long Henderson could be working under the leadership of an interim chief.

“I will be working on a strategy for transition over the next couple of weeks,” Griffin said. “We’ll make an interim appointment, and determine what I feel is the best course of action for recruitment of the applicants and selection process to name a new chief. It will probably take at least six months to get through that process.”

Griffin said the optimal time frame would be within six months. Meaning, it could take longer.

“Just when you consider the advertising time and the review time and all that process, you’re easily at four months,” Griffin said. “I’ve learned that nothing is easy.”

It is too early to tell what the starting salary will be for the new chief. Sidwell, with 25 years experience, started in January 2007 at $66,000. He will depart May 31 making $72,495 annually.

The city is believed to be about 10 to 15 percent below market.

The city manager is hopeful of finding someone with the same traits that led him to say Sidwell was among the best of the best.

“Keith is absolutely the best chief I’ve worked with, and I’ve worked with a lot of them over the past 30-some years,” Griffin said. “And I think what makes him that way is he’s straight up and narrow. He believes in doing his job well. He believes in treating people fairly and equally.”

Sidwell said he considered the move in part because of his children being out of school and wanting to return home to Virginia to enjoy a different stage of his life.

“I’ve been offered full-time employment, but my plans are to go back and teach,” Sidwell said. “I will be teaching part-time because I really don’t want to work full-time anymore. I’ve done this for going on 32 years. It’s time to reflect and do some things I want to do.

“From October through January, I plan to be in the woods because I’m an avid hunter. I love to do that. And I’ll continue to do that with my kids and friends. And, of course, my wife has a to-do list for me, about four miles long. I’m looking forward, actually, to doing those things because I’ll have the opportunity to get that done. I’ll probably be more busy in retirement than I ever was when I was working.”

And he expects the transition to be smooth for the incoming chief.

“We’re fully staffed, and I’m tickled with that,” Sidwell said. “We actually have a waiting list. We’re very fortunate with that. The pay raises really helped our turnover a great deal.

“The next chief coming in, he or she should have a very smooth transition. And, that was my goal, to make sure that it ran smoothly. I think we’ve accomplished that.”

“He’s done a superb job with in creating partnerships and working with his officers and these partnerships to get crime down, to get people to take more ownership in the community,” Griffin said.

And he hopes the next chief will be able to do likewise.

Contact the writer at awooten@hendersondispatch.com.