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COLUMBUS, Ga. — Interim Chief of Police Stoney Mathis has been formally nominated by Mayor Skip Henderson to fill the position permanently after a lengthy city council meeting ran well into the evening hours on September 26.
The nomination was announced by Mayor Henderson after the council returned from executive session.
Since Georgia law requires a waiting period of fourteen days between the Mayor’s nomination and a vote of confirmation, city council will cast their votes to either confirm or deny Mathis for the permanent position at the next city council meeting on October 10.
According to Section 4-201 (15) of the Columbus City Charter, city council must provide a total of six affirmative votes to confirm the Mayor’s nomination.
Here’s what Mayor Henderson had to say in his late-night announcement during the city council meeting on September 26 at close to 11:00 p.m.:
“There was a notification given to council and there has since been a press release mailed out as to the fact that after a very thorough process and much careful consideration and a nation-wide search, we are forwarding to council for their consideration of confirmation the name of Stoney Mathis, who is our current interim chief to fulfill the role of police chief going forward here in Columbus, Georgia. The Georgia law requires that there be a … 14-day lapse before any recommendation can be voted on, so the vote will take place by council during the October 10th meeting.”
To say Mathis has led the department to achieve that goal of reunification would be an understatement; he radically improved the atmosphere within the department.
Mathis began his role as the interim chief on May 5 of this year after many months of strategic turmoil surrounding the department’s former chief.
In his first few months on the job, Mathis was able to empower officers to place their differences aside and move forward as a single unified police force with a common purpose and direction.
Though recruitment and retention had previously plagued the department for several years, Mathis was able to not just develop a plan to improve those numbers, but also implemented that plan within the few short months he’s been on the job; CPD was able to recruit a whopping 33 new officers for the current academy class. That’s the largest class the department has been able to produce within a decade.
Mathis also worked with his officers and city councilors to find and implement a solution for one of the largest policy-related morale issues within the department by fixing the city’s take-home car policy for officers who live across the river in Alabama.
Officers of the Columbus Police Department could also be seeing a $5,000/year pay raise in the near future along with an increase in the overall morale of the force, thanks to another clever approach to retention by Mathis.
“If we keep doing business like we have been doing business,” Mathis said to council, “we will never gain any police officers year after year. We have to think differently.”
Mathis’ implemented courses of action and corresponding timeline bear a striking resemblance to those articulated by the Muckraker on March 14 nearly two months before Mathis came to the department.
Thinking differently — moving away from the decade of bad ideas that have previously plagued our police department and city as a whole — seems to be working quite well. Really well.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Perhaps city councilors ought to consider that and apply this alternate strategic approach in applicable ways throughout other parts of our city as well: by building a strong foundational base of solid leadership; by taking care of those in your charge; by really understanding their needs and placing them above your own; by harnessing and maintaining what we already have instead of gluttonously coveting that which we don’t.
“The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you do not care. Either is a failure of leadership.” — Gen. Colin Powell.
From what has become readily apparent, it seems our city’s police officers have tremendous confidence in Stoney Mathis’ ability to help solve their problems long-term.
Here’s to thinking differently. Good job, Chief!
THE MAYOR’S PRESS RELEASE
The following media release was published by the Office of the Mayor on September 26, 2023:
//—-----BEGIN MEDIA RELEASE—-----//
Mayor Skip Henderson has selected Interim Chief Stoney Mathis to fill the position of Police Chief for the City of Columbus. Mayor Henderson will go before the Columbus Council for approval of his selection on Tuesday, October 10, 2023, the next scheduled business meeting of the Council.
Mathis was appointed as Interim Police Chief on May 8th. As the Interim Chief, Mathis has been responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Police Department and the management and direction of a workforce of 488 sworn officer positions and 107 civilian personnel, and an annual budget of $40.2 million.
Mathis’s law enforcement career spans some 30 years of service and his last 20 years of service have been at the command level. He began his law enforcement career in 1993 with the Monroe Police Department in Monroe, Georgia. Mathis has served as Police Chief for the City of Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia and for the City of Fairburn, Georgia where he and his team reduced the crime rate by 52% even as the city saw steady growth.
Mathis received his bachelor’s degree from Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma, and his Master of Public Administration degree from Columbus State University. Mathis is also a graduate of the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Leadership Program, and he is the 4th Vice President of the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police.
“Mathis brings a new perspective to the Columbus Police Department. With his years of experience, knowledge of law enforcement, and his ability to build relationships while focusing on public safety will enhance the operations and the delivery of public safety for the citizens of Columbus,” said Henderson.
The city conducted a national search to fill the Police Chief position. The recruitment process was highly competitive, and the leading applicants went through an extensive selection process resulting in Stoney Mathis being the recommended candidate.
“I am excited about the opportunity to join the Public Safety team to serve and protect the citizens of Columbus. It is an honor to work with the fine people at the Columbus Police Department and all Public Safety for the betterment of Columbus. I look forward to working with the Mayor, Administration, the Council and the community”, said Mathis.
Mathis was born in Andrews NC; he and his wife Lynette have 3 adult children.
Mayor’s Office: 706-225-4712
“An Equal Opportunity / Affirmative Action Organization”
//—-----END OF MEDIA RELEASE—-----//
Facts are stubborn things — and we’ll keep publishing them, whether city officials like them or not.
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