published Thursday, April 24th, 2014

Mayor Berke closes in on Chattanooga police chief choice

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke
Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke
Photo by Tim Barber /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke is close to making his pick for a new police chief.

The list was narrowed down to a handful of candidates two weeks ago and given to the mayor to conduct one-on-one interviews. Berke's spokeswoman Lacie Stone confirmed the city is still doing the necessary background work on the finalists.

"We are close," she said. "A new police chief will not be hired until [the background] work is complete."

Several sources confirmed that the list of finalists doesn't include the four internal candidates within the Chattanooga Police Department who applied for the top spot.

Stone would not release the names or credentials of the finalists.

"I don't have any information on the final candidates that I can share at this time," she said.

The Times Free Press has filed an open records request for the information.

The city has said Berke will make his pick -- what some have called one of the most important decisions he'll make as mayor -- by May.

Two weeks ago, Berke's blue ribbon panel -- local attorney and former magistrate Roger Dickson, Hamilton County District Attorney General Bill Cox and Donna Roddy, on-site health educator for BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee -- reviewed about 20 candidates before sending a short list to the mayor.

More than 70 candidates originally applied to take former Police Chief Bobby Dodd's position. The city hired a search firm, Police Executive Research Firm, for $40,000 to narrow the list.

Contact staff writer Joy Lukachick at or 423-757-6659.

about Joy Lukachick Smith...

Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...

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