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Citizens Ask For Voice in Hiring Police Chief

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Courtesy Fairbanks Police Department

Last night the Fairbanks City Council honored outgoing members Jerry Cleworth and David Pruhs, and swore in new members Lonny Marney and Jim Clark.

The City is also trying to hire a new Chief of Police, after the resignation of Nancy Reeder in August. Citizens came to the meeting to ask for a diverse hiring committee.

Helenmarie Matesi testified online and thanked the council for the recent implicit bias training offered to all City employees. Then she asked that representation from Black, Indigenous or People of Color be on the panel that reviews applicants to the police department.

“These communities are more likely to support a system, that they have had input in creating. If you inlcude us, we will bring culture and insight and knowledge to the table.”

Her comments were echoed by emailed testimony from Arleigh Hitchcock whose comments are read here by City Clerk Danyielle Snider.

“I’m asking the City Council and Mayor Matherly that an NAACP board member, a Native Movement board member and a TCC board member each be appointed to be on a hiring committee for our new Chief of Police. I believe their appointment will continue the dialogue between the City, FPD and the citizens.”  

Mayor Jim Matherly said he was already working on a list of people and following a guideline that involved the City’s Diversity Committee.

“We are going to be leaning a lot on the Diversity Committee, this is right up their alley, and I’ve already had several people on that committee come to me wanting to serve. So we are in the process of getting names together, from different areas like we did last time we hired the Chief, which included military and Troopers and other people of the community.”

The Mayor said he would alert the public when the process was ready for public meetings.