New chief, assistant among changes OK’d for Cordova Police Department
by Jennifer Cohron
Nov 29, 2012 | 3844 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Zak Green, left, and Nick Smith were hired Tuesday night as assistant police chief and police chief, respectively, of the Cordova Police Department. Photo by: Jennifer Cohron
Zak Green, left, and Nick Smith were hired Tuesday night as assistant police chief and police chief, respectively, of the Cordova Police Department. Photo by: Jennifer Cohron
CORDOVA — Change continued to be the theme of the new administration in Cordova Tuesday night as the city council voted on several issues regarding the police department.

First was the selection of a new police chief. The position was vacated by Kenneth Bobo, who was sworn in as Carbon Hill’s police chief on Nov. 6.

Mayor Drew Gilbert said that he and council member Ed Earp conducted between nine and 10 interviews before finally recommending Nick Smith.

Smith has been with the Parrish Police Department since 2004 and has served as its chief since 2006.

He assumed the role at 23, making him one of the youngest chiefs in the state at the time.

Smith said Tuesday night that he intends to run a community-oriented police department.

“Community first. We’ll do what we can to reduce crime and put the citizens first,” Smith said.

Joining Smith in that task will be Zak Green, who was named as Cordova’s assistant chief during the meeting.

Gilbert said Green was a candidate for the chief position and has proven his worth during his short time with the department.

“He’s created a lot of felony drug arrests and is really helping get this city in the right shape,” Gilbert said.

The council agreed to pay Green $14 an hour.

The council also approved a motion to raise the pay for full-time officers from $12 to $13 an hour.

Gilbert said in doing research, he discovered that Cordova has been paying its police force less than nearly all surrounding cities.

“What this does is it encourages a high turnover. Our officers were leaving constantly for better paying jobs,” Gilbert said.

He added that he hoped offering a more competitive wage would encourage officers to stay for longer periods of time.

He pointed out that every member of the current department with one exception was hired this year.

“We’ve got to stop that from happening. We’ve got to attract our officers to not only come here but to stay here and really be a part of this community,” Gilbert said.

Council member Bradley Grace asked if current officers and new hires would be treated equally under the pay raise.

Gilbert said that while his goal is to one day implement a pay scale with a progressive raise structure, he felt that a basic raise for all was the best place to start.

“I just wanted to get us at least on a level playing field with those around us or close to it and then we can move forward in the future with a pay scale,” Gilbert said.

In other action from the meeting, the council:

•Appointed Charlie Stephens Jr. as city judge upon Gilbert’s recommendation.

“He has a very good reputation. He’s stern in upholding the law, and that’s what I’m trying to get here in Cordova,” Gilbert said.

Local attorney Joe Hudson had served as the city’s judge in previous administrations.

As a result of the change, all Cordova municipal court cases that were scheduled to be heard Wednesday, Dec. 5, have been rescheduled for the Wednesday, Jan. 9, docket.

•Hired all city employees on a permanent basis. The council had previously voted to keep all city employees on a temporary basis during an organizational meeting on Nov. 5.

“I didn’t want to come in and take anyone’s job from them. Once we set the standard for the performance we expect, they have that. If someone didn’t meet the standards of what we were trying to do, at that point we would go in a different direction. For now, I’d like to give everybody a clean slate and move forward,” Gilbert said.

•Appointed Grace, Earp and Stephen Tidwell to the Cordova Gas and Water Board for the duration of their council term.