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Lancaster names interim chief

August 07, 2003|PHIL PENDLETON

LANCASTER - Two days after Russell Preston announced his resignation as police chief, Wanda Shelton has been named interim police chief in Lancaster.

Shelton, who has been with the force since 1998 and mostly recently held the rank of sergeant, will serve at least 30 days while the council reviews applicants.

"I have a big job ahead of me," said Shelton.

Mayor Billy Moss said Shelton and Sgt. Willie Skeens were considered for the interim position, with Shelton given the nod.

"Willie said if I wanted it, he would back me 100 percent," said Shelton.

Moss said Skeens was next in line if Shelton did not want the position.

Shelton said her biggest challenge will be improving morale among the officers. She says morale is low right now because of Preston's departure as chief. While he will remain with the force as a patrol officer, Shelton said she and the other officers feel like they have lost their leader.

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Shelton said she thought Preston would have retired as chief in several years.

Moss said the permanent position of chief is being advertised within the department. "The personnel policy allows anyone in-house to apply for the job," said Moss.

If no one in-house is selected, then the position will be advertised in newspapers, he said. The process is expected to take about a month.

Shelton would like to be considered for the permanent job, and Moss said she has a chance of keeping the title of chief. "If she performs well, she will be strongly considered," said Moss.

"I have a big job ahead of me for at least 30 days," said Shelton.



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