Columbia will soon have its first female police chief.
City manager De’Carlon Seewood made the announcement Wednesday afternoon at city hall about 18-year CPD veteran Jill Schlude, describing her as the standout candidate during the search process.
“During the search, one candidate stood out to our interview panel and many community members. They have proven themselves as a strong leader and their ideas for the police department matched those priorities that the community said they wanted. And with that, I would like to welcome Columbia’s next police chief and the first female chief, Jill Schlude,” Mr. Seewood says.
The 46-year-old Schlude has been with the Columbia Police Department since 2005. She tells 939 the Eagle that CPD’s number one priority is to answer 911 calls. Recruiting and retention of officers is another priority. CPD is currently short 38 officers.
“One of the first things we’re going to be doing is taking a really hard look at where we can be more efficient and where we need to put our finite resources. We’re at about 63 percent staffing on patrol right now so we’re going to be making some tough decisions about staff. But our number one priority is to answer 911 calls,” says Schlude.
Chief Schlude will be sworn-in during the December 4 city council meeting.
Mr. Seewood tells 939 the Eagle that 18 candidates applied for the position. That list was narrowed down to eight and eventually to four finalists. The other three finalists were, in alphabetical order, former Forest Park (Georgia) and Fort Smith (Arkansas) police chief Nathaniel Clark, Kansas City Police Major Dan Haley and Greeley Colorado deputy police chief Michael Zeller. The four finalists spoke at an October forum at city hall.
Columbia Mayor Barbara Buffaloe told the audience at city hall on Wednesday that it was a difficult decision for Mr. Seewood. Under Columbia’s charter, the city manager is the person who hires the police chief.
“The hiring of a police chief is the number one and hardest job that a city manager ever has to do. He will be measured by this and he will be ridiculed and appreciated all of the things. And so will we on council,” Mayor Buffaloe says.
Schlude’s annual salary will be $165,000.