City of Waco officials announced Tuesday night they will swear in an interim police chief and will be taking extra time in their search for a new permanent chief.
The decision comes a week after the city named five finalists for the position and scheduled a town hall meeting for Wednesday, with plans to narrow the field to two candidates by then and allow the public to ask them questions. With Tuesday night’s announcement, that meeting has been canceled, and Frank Gentsch will be sworn in as interim police chief, according to a city press release.
Gentsch has been acting police chief since February, when Ryan Holt took the role of assistant city manager after serving as Waco’s police chief since late 2016. Gentsch has been an assistant chief since 2008 and with the department since 1980.
“The current COVID-19 pandemic coupled with the ongoing dialogue in the country surrounding the role of police has changed the environment for completing a hiring process for chief of police,” Deputy City Manager Bradley Ford wrote in Tuesday night’s press release. “While we are pleased with the finalists who were being considered, we believe more time and consideration is essential to select the person to lead the department.
“We will continue to seek community input as the process goes forward. Having an experienced interim chief will enable us to continue to provide the highest level of service during this search process.”
Last week, Waco NAACP President Peaches Henry told the Tribune-Herald she and other local leaders had concerns as they started to learn about some of the five finalists the city had named. Henry also urged city officials to be diligent in their vetting process and to extend the search if they saw fit.
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