Local News

New Durham Police Chief Ready To Face Challenges Of Bull City

Posted October 24, 2002

— After nearly a year of searching, an assistant inspector general for the U.S. Department of the Interior has been named as Durham's new police chief.

M. Douglas Scott was selected as the city's next police chief. He said some of the challenges the police department faces are not unique to other departments across the country.

"I know what the challenges are, and I think I'm up to the challenge," Scott said.

Officers say they are excited about Scott's hiring, and they are glad the search is finally over.

"We got a leader and we're hoping to move in a forward direction," said Sgt. Andy Miller, president of the Police Benvelolent Association. "He's got some traits that most leaders have. When you talk to him, you get a feeling of confidence."

Scott, 45, who begins Dec. 1 and will earn $108,000, was the candidate endorsed by the city's three police groups.

Scott has more than 25 years of law enforcement experience. He spent two years as chief in Fairfax City, Va., and three years as police chief of Fairfax County, which is nearly double the size of Durham's department.

Scott said he can continue the path set by his friend and former Chief Teresa Chambers. Chambers left Jan. 31 to head the U.S. Park Police.

"I am ready to dive into the issues facing the community and to take the department to a level of success to make it the best police department in the state," Scott said.

Miller admits the position comes with some baggage.

"Morale is certainly going to be an issue. It slipped somewhat during the long drawn-out process. He seems to have a good grip on what problems are facing Durham," he said.

City Manager Marcia Conner made the announcement after learning that Charles Austin Sr., chief and assistant city manager for public safety in Columbia, S.C., announced his intent to remain in his $128,602 job during a city council executive session there Wednesday.

"I am confident that we have chosen the best person to lead Durham as we seek to make our city one of the safest in the state," Conner said. "Scott was outstanding at every point during the interview process, with the assessors, with the police department employees and with the citizens."

The decision came two days after Conner eliminated a third candidate, Marvin Evans, 52, commander of the Newport News, Va., Police Department's Criminal Investigations Bureau. The three were chosen from among 54 applicants and passed rigorous background and fingerprint checks.

The search was the city's second since August, when Gregory Watkins, a retired Kansas City, Mo., deputy chief, backed out after it was revealed that two of his five ex-wives had sought domestic violence protective orders against him.

Scott said he plans to keep interim chief Steve Chalmers on as one of his deputy chiefs. The city's first search took nearly eight months and cost $25,000, but the city was reimbursed $8,500 since it ended without a chief. This time, the city spent about $7,000 and the process took more than two months.

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