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Knox to reorganize Riverdale Police Dept.

By Justin Boron

Riverdale Police Chief Thetus Knox said she hopes her plans to reorganize the police department will help move it closer to accreditation.

The proposal to restructure the department comes almost two months after she began the position and reaffirms her promise to have an accreditation plan outlined within 90 days of her first day.

Knox took over as chief Sept. 27 and is the first African-American woman to head the department.

While the proposal she brought before the city council does not include removing anyone from current positions, it does create several new positions that when filled, will pull authority from some current high-ranking positions.

City Council member Michelle Bruce said the proposal demonstrated Knox's optimism for the department.

"She wants to move the police department forward to a new path," she said.

City Manager Iris Jessie expressed a similar approval of the report entitled "New Directions."

"It looked at what would need strengthening and intended to put us in a better standing for national accreditation," she said.

One of the new positions will be an assistant police chief job that will supervise operations directly, leaving the chief to focus on administrative management.

"I need someone separate from me to stay on top of those issues," she said.

The new assistant chief will determine deployment strategy and adjust patrols to crime analysis, Knox said.

The change will consolidate the authority of the three commanding officers who work below the chief now.

Knox said she is accepting applications for all of the new jobs both internally and externally. But has not received any for assistant chief.

"It is an open competitive position," she said.

The other positions will be filled on 20-hour per week salaries, Knox said.

Adding a crime analyst, a training coordinator, and an administrative assistant will help the department conform to accreditation standards set out by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA), she said.

The decision to fill some of the positions only part time was primarily a financial one, Knox said.

"I had the citizens money in mind," she said.

Although ideally she would like the positions to be filled full time, Knox said the department would be able to operate sufficiently under the constraints.

Knox also said she wants to move her officers onto one standard operating procedure manual.

The department currently works with two manuals, which often conflict and confuse operations, she said.

Other than operational deficiencies, Knox has noticed many differences in her transition from the Atlanta Police Department, where she supervised a 125-officer zone.

In Riverdale as chief, she only oversees half of that.

Amid the tighter budget and smaller staff, she has had to adjust to officers' wider range of responsibility.

"Individuals wear so many hats here," she said.