North Texas

More Than 100 Apply to Become Denton's Next Police Chief

A nationwide search has yielded more than 100 applicants to be Denton's next chief of police.

This week marked the end of a 37-year law enforcement career in Denton for now-former police chief Lee Howell. He accepted a similar position in Saginaw.

According to city officials, 112 people applied for the chief's job. A California-based consulting firm, Ralph Anderson & Associates, is conducting the search.

"We all understand the difficulties that job brings," said Denton City Council member Gerard Hudspeth. "Everything's scrutinized, everything's videotaped, and it's just a contentious position."

Hudspeth said he expected Denton's next police chief to be someone who can handle that. He's hoping the final pick will be someone with a diverse mindset.

"When I say diversity, I mean a diverse upbringing, a diverse look at things to understand the dynamics, because you have different upbringings, different segments of your community," he said.

The Denton Police Department is made up of 178 officers. When Howell announced his retirement, applications poured in from all over the country. The consultant will narrow them down to 12-to-15 finalists.

"Early indications are that will be a challenge," said Bryan Langley, deputy city manager. "Because there are so many good candidates in the mix."

Langley said he expected the final candidates will be interviewed at the end of August. Last week, longtime Denton police Lt. Bobby Smith was named interim chief. Langley said community input will play a role in the selection of the next chief.

"Someone who's going to be an advocate for certain parts of the community, issues that need to be addressed," Langley said. "We want them to have good relationships with the community and a good buy-in on day one."

Most, if not all of the applicants, are from outside Denton. City leaders hope to have a new chief sworn in by early October.

"Whoever this candidate is, is going to absolutely be ready to come in and get to work," Hudspeth said. "And that's okay."

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