HUNTERSVILLE – The search for the next chief for the Huntersville Police Department is on schedule, town leaders said during the board’s Jan. 30-31 retreat.

Efforts to replace Phil Potter – the town’s police chief for nine years before he retired last August and took a police chief job in October in Alcoa, Tenn. – are ongoing and productive, Town Manager Greg Ferguson said.

“We’re moving forward, I think we’re pretty close to saying we’re down to 25 (candidates),” he said. “It’s a lot of work to go through and give adequate consideration to candidates to make sure you’re not crossing them off the list for the wrong reasons.”

Town staff set a goal of paring down the list of candidates to 10 by mid-February, Human Resources Director Vickie Brock said. Further screening questions will be sent out to those candidates, followed by a process narrowing down the list to five.

A total of 117 people applied for the position. Brock added that she, Ferguson and Assistant Town Manager Gerry Vincent began working with HPD’s captains to screen candidates.

“Vickie and I met with every single employee in the police department,” Vincent said. “We asked them a couple of questions, but more importantly, we asked what they want to see in their next police chief. We met with every single shift.”

Brock said the department’s officers have been very invested in the search.

“The feedback we received from the department has been very positive,” Ferguson said. “This is a period of transition, but we’ve told the department that we want it to be a period of stability. That doesn’t mean it can’t be a period of improvement. What we’ve had is a good opportunity to look at the department, top-to-bottom, get influencial feedback, look at issues and make some changes.

“The department won’t be handed over to a chief and say, ‘Go assess it for 12 months and figure out what to do.’ They’ll be able to say, ‘This department is in pretty good working order. There are some decisions that haven’t been made for you, but you can put your stamp on the department.’ This amount of time and detail has been healthy and good for it.”

Mayor Jill Swain believes the police department is in a good place regarding present officers and its search.

“The whole feeling in the police department right now is letting the personalities shine, and communications are open,” Swain said. “The dialogue is productive.”