The city of Ozark has began soliciting applications for its next chief of police. This week’s job posting comes after the recent resignation of Lyle Hodges, who was reprimanded in May after a report alleging misconduct within the department.
City Administrator Steve Childers tells KSMU that the biggest thing Ozark is looking for in a new chief is leadership, and for someone who will be “very engaged.”
“Not just in engaged with the department and the employees but engaged on a daily basis with our community,” Childers said.
Former chief Hodges turned in his resignation on June 26. A month prior, Hodges and two of his employees were reprimanded, in news first reported by KY3-TV. The action came on the heels of reviews that were prompted by allegations of wrongdoings within the Ozark Police Department. In response to the reviews, several recommendations were outlined to improve the department’s operations.
Childers is hoping the hire will re-energize the department following its recent controversy, calling it a “very positive opportunity” moving forward.
“I think my police officers from the lieutenants down are very hungry for some direction, for some clarity in what is expected of them.”
Childers says that Hodges was not asked to resign, noting “it was his decision to make.” The former chief had over 30 years of law enforcement experience when he turned in his resignation without notice. It was accepted by city leadership the same day.
The city administrator wants the citizens to know that they are being well served now by the police force, but reiterated that officers are “hungry for new leadership.”
“If we find the right person who can invoke a high level of morale and that can create an excitement over there for people who are dedicated to their jobs then that will translate into a good image of the police department and people will realize that they are getting good public safety for their tax dollars.”
Low morale within the police department was among the review’s findings, along with nepotism and abuse of hours.
Applications for Ozark police chief close on August 7. Beginning July 20, Steve Ijames will begin serving as interim chief. Ijames had most recently completed a stint as interim chief in Republic. Childers said a contract is currently in the works for Ijames, who the city hopes will also assist in the interviewing process for the permanent chief.
Qualifications to become the next Ozark Police Chief include at least a bachelor’s degree with minimums of 10 year law enforcement experience and five years of command experience. In addition, candidates must have completed ongoing professional development training, possess a valid driver’s license and good driving record, as well as undergo medical, drug and background screenings.