Search for local police chiefs yet to begin

By Ed Brock

Lake City acting police chief Capt. David Colwell has done this before.

For a almost a year before the city's previous Chief Ross Gardner was appointed in 1999 Colwell had also served as interim chief, but when the city was accepting candidates for the full-time position he didn't apply.

"I didn't think I was ready for it, it wasn't my time," Colwell said.

Now he is back in charge four and a half years later, running the department after the Lake City City Council decided not to renew Gardner's contract in January. And his decision on whether or not to apply for the job this time may be different.

"It's something I thought about," Colwell said. "I've got no complaints. I'll run things day to day until they make a decision."

But Lake City has yet to advertise the opening to begin the search for a new chief, just as Forest Park has not yet begun looking for a new fire chief to replace Chief Morris Boyd who retired in November. Eddie Buckholtz is that city's acting Director of Fire and Emergency Services.

Lake City City Manager Jerry Garr brought the matter before the council Monday night.

"I was promised a decision by May 22," Garr said.

And there is no consensus on whether or not the next police chief should be hired from within the department, Garr said.

Forest Park would probably start looking for Boyd's replacement after a series of budget meetings that will take place this month, City Manager Bill Werner said.

"I would like to see who's interested internally," Werner said. "I'd like it to be you work hard for Forest Park, you're dedicated to Forest Park and Forest Park will look at you for an opportunity for promotion."

And Buckholtz, who has spent 25 of his 46 years in fire service, 12 of those years at Forest Park, said he does intend to apply for the job of overseeing the 50-member department.

Colwell, 46, has been with the 15-member Lake City Police Department for about eight years and also worked for the Spalding County Sheriff's Department and the Griffin Police Department.