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Durham Facing Big Challenge With Several Vacancies In Government

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DURHAM, N.C. — Many people in Durham consider the police chief's coming departure for a job in Washington, D.C., a big loss, but her vacancy is just one of many the city needs to fill.

City manager Marcia Conner was stunned to learn police chief Teresa Chambers was leaving after three years in Durham to head the Park Police in Washington, D.C.

Now, Conner has to add police chief to the stack of eight key positions to fill, including the positions of assistant city manager, planning director and economic development director.

"I think in the months of January and February, we should be filling most of those positions. The chief position, I think, it's going to take a little longer," she said.

Many people in Durham hope the new police chief will stay around longer than four years, but others say a long-term commitment to the Bull City should not be a major factor in choosing a new chief.

"It's important for Durham to attract the very best caliber of person they can for that job, and it's better to have a good person for a few years than a slightly above average person for a long time," said Patrick Hyner of Friends Of Durham.

Others see the vacancies as positives.

"I think it affords us a lot of opportunity to make sure that we continue to fill those vacancies with quality men and women who have the best interest of Durham at heart," said Alice Sharpe of Downtown Durham Inc.

Conner said she will be talking with Chambers Thursday about who should take over as interim police chief. She said she will likely hold community forums to get input on the next chief.

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