HUNTERSVILLE – Phil Potter’s nine-year run as head of Huntersville’s police department came to a sudden end Aug. 30.

Potter announced his retirement after spending nearly 40 years working in police departments in Huntersville and Piqua, Ohio. He was Piqua’s police chief for 12 years.

Town Manager Greg Ferguson tabbed Assistant Town Manager Gerry Vincent to replace Potter on a short-term basis. Vincent’s title will be interim director of public safety.

He was not present at the Huntersville board’s Sept. 3 meeting.

Ferguson said Vincent will have more day-to-day interaction with command staff. Deputy Police Chief Michael Kee’s duties will stay the same.

“What we’re trying to do is keep some sense of stability in the department,” Ferguson said.

The process of finding Potter’s replacement will take five or six months. The town staff’s plans of conducting a nationwide search include developing a position profile – a five-to-six page document highlighting the community, job, elected officials and expectations of the new police chief – and advertisements.

“As part of the position profile, we will solicit input from citizens, the business community, the elected body and department members,” Ferguson said, adding the town wants someone with a proven track record.

The position profile should be completed by October. Ferguson said the search for Potter’s successor will be slightly different than when Potter was hired in 2004 because of the town’s growth.

“We were in the 30,000 population range. We’re now in the 50,000 population range and the (police) department employees have moved from the 60s to the 90s,” he said. “The town has built out, so the tax and commercial bases are larger. The good news is the crime rate is still low. There’s not a challenge to come in and fix a crime problem. (The challenge is) to grow the department and help it mature. It’s an opportunity for a chief to be selected and take us to the next level.”

Potter is credited with helping start community programs including Citizen’s Police Academy and National Night Out. The town will hold a retirement reception for Potter at a date to be announced later.

Commissioner Ron Julian praised Potter’s work in keeping crime out of Huntersville.

“He’ll be sorely missed as a great instrument of this town,” he said.

Two important characteristics the next police chief should have are integrity and a sense of team-building, Julian added.

“I wish Chief Potter the best in his retirement."