City manager not rushing to hire police chief

Lyon expects to name new police chief in the fall

By Jeff Harrison
Midwest City Beacon

City Manager Tim Lyon is in the process of selecting a new police chief.

But says he is not in a hurry to make a hasty decision.

Longtime Chief Brandon Clabes resigned last month after more than 40 years with the department and 21 years as the city’s top law enforcement officer. He left to accept a position as executive director of the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training.

Sid Porter is serving as acting chief until a permanent chief is named. Porter has worked for the department for 37 years with the past 7 ½ as assistant chief.

Midwest City City Manager Tim Lyon (File photo)

Lyon said that having someone of Porter’s experience in charge allows him to better evaluate the position.

“I couldn’t ask for a better situation than to have an acting chief that is so long tenured,” Lyon said. “I have always had a great deal of respect for Sid Porter. He’s a very good police officer and very good supervisor. So I’m going to take my time and go through the process.”

Lyon expects to name the next police chief in the fall.

One of the key traits for a new chief will be the ability to engage and connect with the community. The Midwest City Police Department has developed strong ties with residents and community groups over the past several years. Lyon said the next chief must build on that legacy.

“Brandon [Clabes] did a fantastic job of getting out and into the community and set the bar very high,” Lyon said. “I don’t want to lose ground on how well our department interacts with the citizens in this community.”

Part of that task includes reenergizing the city’s neighborhood associations and community programs which saw a drop in attendance and participation since the pandemic.

“We have to focus on getting these neighborhood associations active again,” he said. “With all the stuff that’s going on with COVID-19, I’m a little hesitant to jump out there and make a move. I need to make sure we’re focusing on our primary mission. We need to see our neighborhood initiatives and neighborhood associations functioning at a higher level because right now they’re not.”

Lyon said the next chief will need a high level of education and training along with leadership experience. He also wants to see the next chief embrace new technology within the department.

The position of chief of police is not officially open yet. Lyon said they are still developing a process for selecting the new chief. As city manager, Lyon has authority to hire city department heads including the police chief. The process could include a committee of internal or external individuals.

Lyon said he has not discussed the position with any potential candidates yet.

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