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Lack Of Police Chief Hurts Durham Officers' Morale

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DURHAM, N.C. — After months of searching and even starting over, Durham is closing in on a new chief of police. However, some officers claim the situation has taken a toll on morale.

Nearly 500 police officers patrol the streets of Durham. Over the last 10 months, they have reported to interim chief Steve Chalmers, while the city manager searched for a permanent leader.

"It's been kind of like a rollercoaster. We've had our ups and downs," said Sgt. Andy Miller, president of the Triangle Police Benevolent Association.

Miller said the officers he represents are frustrated by a department that seems to be in constant flux.

"Unfortunately when you've got an interim, you know whatever direction it goes, it's subject to change with the appointment of a permanent police chief," Miller said.

City Manager Marcia Conner announced Thursday that she is one step closer to finding the department's top cop. She said there are three potential candidates for the position, but she would not release their names or where they are from.

After the first search ended without a chief, Conner took responsibility for the bungled search. She now admits the lengthy process has taken its toll.

"I think without having a permanent chief has left a lot of uncertainty in the department in terms of decisions to be made," Conner said.

Miller said police officers who are anxious for stability will be watching closely.

"Every news item, every detail -- we've been listening like everyone else. We want to know who it's going to be and when they're going to start," he said.

Durham residents will get a chance to meet the new candidates for police chief at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall. Conner says she plans to name a permanent chief by the end of the month.


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