Highlands police chief search continues

  • Highlands' search for a new police chief is progressing and interviews are being conducted.
    Highlands' search for a new police chief is progressing and interviews are being conducted.

The search for Highlands’ new police chief continues during a summer that includes the COVID-19 pandemic, social demonstrations calling for equal justice and an economy struggling to recover.

Highlands Town Manager Josh Ward said the search for former chief Bill Harrell’s successor has been ongoing since Harrell tendered his resignation in May. 

“We conducted interviews yesterday among the finalists and are still in the process of making a decision,” Ward said by phone on Tuesday. 

A total of 13 candidates applied for the position and Ward has narrowed them down to four finalists. 

“We haven’t come to a final decision yet, but when we do we will let everyone know,” Ward said.

Highlands Mayor Patrick Taylor praised the work of departing Chief Harrell.

“Chief Harrell served Highlands well over his 14 years and, through training and education, built the Highlands Police Department into a fine police force,” he said. “His shoes will be difficult to fill, but we’re working hard to find the best candidate to fill his position.”

Commissioner Brian Stiehler, a member of the public safety committee said the interview process is in full swing but no decision has been made at this point.

“I thought we might have a closed session in this week’s meeting to discuss it, but I don’t see anything on the agenda,” he said.  

Highlands Commissioner Marc Hehn recalled his time as the Town Administrator in Moncks Corner, South Carolina, where the selection of the Chief of Police involved someone who could wear many hats.

“The Police Chief is just as involved in social services as law enforcement,” Hehn said. “I am certain our Town Manager will select a chief who is an active listener.”

Harrell resigned in May to become the Chief of Police in Franklin. His final day was June 1.