APD Idol: Top 5 Countdown

Five contenders still standing in contest for police chief

APD Idol: Top 5 Countdown
Illustration By Doug Potter

It's been just more than a year since former Austin Police Chief Stan Knee announced he would retire his position for a new job in Afghanistan, and we're still looking for his permanent replacement. There's been a lot of talk – and talk and talk – and, finally, in the last couple of months, some obvious action. In April, City Manager Toby Futrell announced nine finalists for the job; earlier this month the field was narrowed to five: Austin Police Department acting Chief Cathy Ellison; former Chattanooga, Tenn., Chief Jimmie Dotson; California Highway Patrol division Commander Art Acevedo; El Paso Chief Richard Wiles; and former Milwaukee Assistant Chief Roger Reinke. But the process has been so seemingly drawn out that many have gotten frustrated, including various community activists who accuse Futrell of not doing a good enough job of soliciting community input throughout the process.

This week Futrell finally announced scheduling details for three community meetings with the Fab Five: 6pm Monday, June 11, and 8:30am and noon Tuesday, June 12, at Palmer Events Center.

While the time spent will be well worth it if we end up with the very best chief possible, the lengthy process has prompted a number of folks – cops and civilians alike – to tell us that the whole vetting process reminds them more of a reality show than a recruiting process. All things considered, maybe that's not such a bad idea – at least it's one way to quash complaints about a lack of community involvement. How about American Idol: Austin PD, where the contestants sing the praises of community policing each week, set to favorite disco hits of the Seventies? Or maybe Big Brother: Top Cops: Pack five police executives into a garishly decorated, camera-infested, "affordable" Downtown condo, and let mayhem ensue! Or maybe even Survivor: City Hall, where the finalists test their skills in a race to escape the policy pitfalls that litter Futrell Island. Good luck!

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