Caldwell confirmed as new police chief

<div>After nearly an hour of discussion, the Lake Charles City Council on Wednesday confirmed Shawn Caldwell as the next chief of police. </div><div> </div><div>Six of the seven council members voted to confirm him, with District A Councilwoman Mary Morris abstaining. Currently an LCPD deputy chief, Caldwell will take over as chief on Jan. 16 and replace Don Dixon, who is retiring Jan. 15 after nearly 20 years of service. </div><div> </div><div>Mayor Nic Hunter recommended Caldwell for the job after an advisory panel narrowed a field of nine candidates down to three. He said Caldwell’s experience and history with the police department, along with his spirit and demeanor, were the reasons he was recommended.</div><div> </div><div>“Just as he has a big heart, he also understands the need for safe neighborhoods,” Hunter said. “And he will be relentless in making sure that when a crime is committed, the right person is arrested and brought to justice.”</div><div> </div><div>After the vote, Caldwell said he wants to continue Dixon’s “proactive approach on crime” and improve relationships within the community. He said he also wants to address juvenile crime by having officers interact more with the youth through a juvenile committee or youth commission.</div><div>Caldwell said he has ideas to better recruit and retain officers at the department.</div><div> </div><div>District C Councilman Rodney Geyen said Caldwell “will be visible and available” to residents throughout the city. Geyen served on the advisory panel that narrowed the candidates who were considered by Hunter down to three.</div><div> </div><div>District B Councilwoman Luvertha August said Caldwell is “very focused on whatever you ask of him.”</div><div> </div><div>Brenda Hill spoke about how she met with Dixon and Caldwell, along with other officers, to calm her young grandson’s fear of law enforcement.</div><div> </div><div>“I experienced Caldwell’s heart,” she said. “That was a beautiful experience for me.”</div><div> </div><div><strong>Search concerns</strong></div><div> </div><div>Two residents voiced concerns about the search process not having enough public involvement. Kathleen Dorsey Bellow asked the council to consider having more public input when another chief is considered.</div><div>Morris said the police department should have officers that are “representative of the whole community.”</div><div>“My community is basically the community of 53 percent minority,” she said. “And our police department doesn’t look like that.”</div><div>Morris criticized the search process for not being open enough to the public. Geyen said Hunter “went beyond the call of duty” in his search for police chief. </div><div> </div><div>District E City Councilman Stuart Weatherford said the process was transparent and agreed with promoting officers from within if they are qualified.</div><div> </div><div>“I don’t think our (police) department is broken,” he said.</div><div>Making the search process too public could prevent some potential candidates from applying for the chief’s job, Weatherford said. </div><div> </div><div>Caldwell said he will likely submit to Hunter his recommendations for deputy chiefs before he takes over as chief. The department currently has two deputy chiefs. Any recommendations for deputy chiefs are approved by the mayor.</div><div>After the vote, Dixon said the council “made the right choice” in confirming Caldwell.</div>””police chief

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