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Third Time's Charm: Chalmers Named Durham Police Chief

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DURHAM, N.C. — The long search for Durham's next police chief is finally over. Interim Police Chief Steve Chalmers has been named as the permanent chief.

City Manager Marcia Conner named Chalmers Wednesday as Durham's new police chief, effective Jan. 6, 2003. Chalmers has served as interim chief since February.

"I said from the start I was the most viable candidate, and I was prepared to run the orginization. My opinion never changed," Chalmers said.

"Throughout this year, his commitment to the Police Department, to the staff and to the citizens of Durham has been unwavering," Conner said.

Many residents in Durham are pleased with Chalmers getting the job.

I think the city manager, the mayor and the City Council made a wise choice in letting Steve continuing to do what he has done," resident Charles Clinton said.

The 27-year veteran of the Durham Police Department is the thirdchoice for the chief's job. He was dropped from consideration after past domestic abuse allegations came to light. Chalmers has denied those allegations.

Conner said she felt a complete background review of Chalmers' past would be appropriate before she could name him permanently.

"I am satisfied that the firm, U.S. Investigation Services, Inc., conducted a thorough background investigation, including interviews, civil and criminal court searches and a literature search of Chalmers. Their findings did not reveal any information that should prevent Chalmers from serving as the chief of police," she said.

Conner went on to tap two people outside the department to be the next police chief. In both cases, the men resigned before they ever started their first day on the job.

Officers said the drawn-out search for a police chief has taken its toll on the department.

"The officers just want resolution. This is a process that's gone on way too long," said Sgt. Andy Miller, president of the Police Benevolent Association.

Four weeks ago, Conner announced that pending the results of a thorough background investigation, Chalmers is her one and only candidate for the position. The background search was delayed because of Thanksgiving holidays and the ice storm.

Chambers will earn $105,000 a year. He can retire with full benefits in two years, but said he is in it for the long haul and plans to stay for ten years.

Chalmers said his goal is to make Durham the safest city in the nation.

It was almost a year ago that Chief Teresa Chambers announced she was leaving the post.

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