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VIDEO & Gallery: Statesboro Police Chief Candidates Meet & Greet

The Statesboro City Council held a specially-called meeting at Sea Island Bank on Main Street Tuesday night in an effort to introduce to the community the three finalists for Statesboro Police Chief.

Interim City Manager Robert Cheshire posed three questions to each finalist. The complete video is at the bottom of the article, but a brief summary of each candidate is summarized below:

Herbert Blake

  • Current Chief in Henderson, North Carolina
  • WHAT MAKES YOU THE MOST QUALIFIED TO BE THE NEXT STATESBORO POLICE CHIEF?
    • Blake said he comes from a town of 14,000 where he is responsible for 65 people in his agency. He has 16 years of experience as a police chief and as a reputation of stability and success.
  • WHAT PROACTIVE APPROACHES TO POLICE WILL YOU TAKE TO ENSURE CITIZENS ARE NOT UNNECESSARILY HARMED AND POLICE OFFICERS ARE KEPT SAFE?
    • Blake said it is important to set the right tone and culture for the agency and to remember that everyone makes mistake. He also said it’s about how a department communicates with the community and simply saying, “We were just following policy” won’t cut it for a grieving family in the wake of a tragedy.
  • HOW WILL YOU MEET THE GOAL OF PROVIDING EXCEPTIONAL SERVICE TO THE CITIZENS OF STATESBORO WHILE WORKING WITHIN A CHALLENGING BUDGET?
    • Blake emphasized the importance of ‘stepping up, not stepping down,’ saying he has never been focused on growing agencies and budgets, but instead working efficiently within the means he’s given.

Saundra Rhodes

  • Former Police Chief of Horry County, South Carolina
  • WHAT MAKES YOU THE MOST QUALIFIED TO BE THE NEXT STATESBORO POLICE CHIEF?
    • Rhodes says she has 24 years experience in law enforcement and she’s interested in Statesboro because of the values of the community. She said she brings experience, knowledge, passion, and compassion.
  • WHAT PROACTIVE APPROACHES TO POLICE WILL YOU TAKE TO ENSURE CITIZENS ARE NOT UNNECESSARILY HARMED AND POLICE OFFICERS ARE KEPT SAFE?
    • Rhodes said training for law enforcement must be a number one priority because police have an obligation to be leaders in the community. Rhodes noted that while police are humans and bad things happen, the effects of those bad things can be reduced by the way a community and department build a relationship. “The police are the people and the people are the police.”
  • HOW WILL YOU MEET THE GOAL OF PROVIDING EXCEPTIONAL SERVICE TO THE CITIZENS OF STATESBORO WHILE WORKING WITHIN A CHALLENGING BUDGET?
    • Rhodes mentioned she had spoken with some Statesboro officers who expressed concern over a shortage of officers and how that effects moral and service. Rhodes said the patrol division is the backbone of the police department and they need support, but the community needs to grow and understand that not every call to 911 needs the police.

Charles Sikes

  • Former Special Agent to the GBI
  • WHAT MAKES YOU THE MOST QUALIFIED TO BE THE NEXT STATESBORO POLICE CHIEF?
    • Sikes said he is not ready to retire yet and wants to give back to his hometown he loves so much. While he was uncomfortable stating why he is the ‘most qualified’ candidate, Sikes emphasized he is as qualified as the other two and simply brings different experience.
  • WHAT PROACTIVE APPROACHES TO POLICE WILL YOU TAKE TO ENSURE CITIZENS ARE NOT UNNECESSARILY HARMED AND POLICE OFFICERS ARE KEPT SAFE?
    • Sikes said following the Policing in America recommendations that mean how we are policed is determined by the community. It’s important to hold people accountable and while things like body cameras may help, they are not a standalone fix. Sikes emphasized that millions of people interact with police in a positive way every day and it’s the rare occurrences that draw attention.
  • HOW WILL YOU MEET THE GOAL OF PROVIDING EXCEPTIONAL SERVICE TO THE CITIZENS OF STATESBORO WHILE WORKING WITHIN A CHALLENGING BUDGET?
    • Sikes mentioned that the City of Statesboro works off a $6 million annual budget that is a good working budget for the city. Sikes said he has priorities he would begin with while ensuring the officers have what they  need.

Photos by Brooke Bowen Willis – AllOnGeorgia

Jessica Szilagyi is a Statewide Contributor for AllOnGeorgia.com. She focuses primarily on state and local politics as well as issues in law enforcement. She has a background in Political Science with a focus in local government and has a Master of Public Administration from the University of Georgia. Jessica is a "Like It Or Not" contributor for Fox5 in Atlanta and has two blogs of her own: The Perspicacious Conservative and "Hair Blowers to Lawn Mowers."

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