Did management shake-up prompt departure?
COLUMBIA, Mo 11/12/13 (Beat Byte) -- The Columbia Police Department (CPD) has lost another high-ranking officer, and to Kansas no less.
Brad Nelson will become the Salina, Kansas police chief Dec. 2, replacing current chief Jim Hill, who retired in October.
As one of three Columbia police captains, Nelson was part of a management shake-up last year. With lobbying from police chief Ken Burton and city manager Mike Matthes, City Council members reclassified Nelson's position, granting Burton the power to fire captains -- second in the police command chain -- at will. The move drew protests from the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police and two dissenting Council members. Barbara Hoppe and Helen Anthony predicted it would lead to departures from the top ranks.
A 29-year police veteran who served 21 years in Columbia, eight as captain, Nelson joins Zim Schwartze as another recent high-profile Columbia law enforcement departure. Nelson and Schwartze both applied for the Cedar Rapids, Iowa police chief position last year, but neither made the cut. After 17 years with CPD and three years as director of the Columbia-Boone County Joint Communications Center, Schwartze left to direct the Springfield, Mo. 911 center in January.
Salina officials selected Nelson for his lengthy experience -- and a skill he picked up working under Burton. In 2009, shortly after he took the position, Burton started "geographic policing," assigning officers to certain neighborhoods. Salina city manager Jason Gage told various media outlets he hopes Nelson will institute a similar "neighborhood by neighborhood" policing strategy.
Salina received thirty-eight applications for the police chief position, interviewed 7 applicants by phone, and four in person before settling on Nelson.