By David Jenkins
For the first time in seven years, the city of Murphy will have to search for a new chief of police.
As reported last week in the Monitor, G.M. Cox will step down from the head post after submitting his notice of retirement May 13.
He last day with the city will be June 4.
Cox’s retirement was one of the topics of discussion during the May 19 city council meeting.
“We have been very fortunate and blessed to have G.M. over the last seven years,” Murphy City Manager James Fisher said. “When we brought him in, there were a lot of things that had to be worked on. He stepped right in and brought character and integrity to turn our department around. It wasn’t easy. There were a lot of changes that had to be done. It is kind of fitting that the culmination of all this was the recognition that the department received.”
Murphy Mayor Eric Barna added, “I really appreciate the type of culture that G.M. has set for the department. We enforce the law, but at the same time we are very kind. You have this very delicate balance that he has managed to put in place that I think is exactly what you want in a police department. For me, going through his process is going to be very hard to get somebody that is not going to break that down. We want somebody that is going to continue to build on what we have done and take it to an even better place.”
He will officially retire July 1.
“The last few weeks he will be available on call as the interim chief. We will be able to contact him if there are any issues that arrive,” Fisher said.
There will be a party at 3 p.m. June 4, with details still to be finalized.
Cox took over as chief of police in October 2008.
“The department at the time of the hiring was in desperate need of a leader who could help them find their way. Under his leadership the Murphy Police Department has helped make Murphy one of the safest cities, not only in Texas, but in the nation,” Fisher said.
Cox has been in the law enforcement field for the past 43 years, with other stops including the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department, Oak Ridge North Police Department, Lamesa Police Department and Corsicana Police Department.
The city opened the position for applicants May 22 and will close June 22.
“The hiring of a police chief is probably one of the most critical positions in any city no mater the size,” Fisher said. “We are going to be very aggressive. I have spent the last several weeks traveling North Texas and speaking with various people, and laying out a plan to find a new chief.”
Barna added, “This is a big hire for our city. We have to nail this. It’s definitely not going to be easy.”
The city will use an outside firm to perform the background and reference checks.
Upon closure, the top seven to 10 semifinalists will be chosen, and extensive background and reference checks will be performed on each one.
Interviews for the semifinalists will begin around July 14 and will be conducted by a panel of six to seven people, consisting of city council, city employees, the community and outside people.
The finalists will be chosen the week of July 20 and will be invited back to the city July 30 to Aug. 1.
“We are still trying to figure out how we are going to handle the interviews of the final choices,” Fisher said.
Barna added, “I would really like for the council to play a role in the interview process. If we have to do like Noah and go in two-by-two, we can. I like the idea of getting 15 minutes, or something along those lines with each candidate. We just want to get the chance to meet them. It actually may help the process, instead of having such a formal meeting with the final choices. Even if it is just 15 minutes, their first meeting with us won’t be so formal. I know it’s your (Fisher’s) hire, but my guess is the final two will involve some sort of discussion with the council. Like we’ve said it (chief of police) is a very important piece of the community. We would appreciate that you take into account our thoughts on the hiring. It is definitely your decision to make. I just want to make sure that we get it right.”
The city hopes to have the final decision made by the end of August so the who ever is hired will have time to get settled.
“If the person we hire has children we want to make sure we are able to have them here before the start of the school year,” Fisher said.
The council also discussed the following items:
- There will be a town hall meeting Wednesday, June 3 with the homeowners association and TxDOT to discuss the issues with the roads.
- The work on Timbers Nature Preserve is still a work in process. Due to all the rain work hasn’t been moving quite as quickly.
- The Betsy Lane Road widening project should begin in mid-June.
- There are discussions of the South Maxwell Creek Parallel Trunk Sewer Line starting at the upper end, since the lake (Lavon) continues to refill.
- The issues with North Murphy Road are still being worked on.
- The city is working on a mosquito prevention plan and hope to have that in place before long.
A special council meeting was held on Tuesday to discuss the 2016 fiscal year budget.
The next regular council meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. June 7.