ELIZABETHTOWN — Kip Hester was officially given his oath of office as interim police chief by Elizabethtown Town Clerk Juanita Hester on Thursday afternoon.
Hester will serve as interim chief until a new police chief is hired. Friday was Chief Bobby Kinlaw’s last official day on duty as he announced his retirement earlier this year.
Kinlaw, Lt. Mark McMichael, Det. Sgt. Jeff Guyton and Lt. Dwayne Cheshire all gathered as Hester took his oath.
“It means a lot more responsibility for me,” said Hester of the position.
He added it was not a position he actively sought out but it was a great learning opportunity.
“I’ve got some big shoes to fill,” said Hester of following Kinlaw into the position. Hester joined the Elizabethtown Police Department in 2003 and, prior to that, he worked with the Bladenboro Police Department beginning in 2001.
Town Manager Eddie Madden said he hopes to be able to have a new police chief in place by the end of the year.
Madden said that surveys have been sent to officers in the department that will ask them to describe the traits they want to see in a police chief and those surveys are due back Sept. 4.
“Once we see them, we can develop a job description (using the survey results),” said Madden.
He added the process will be similar to the process the town uses when hiring a fire chief. Madden said there will be a search committee formed and the committee will review the applications and conduct initial interviews to narrow the field to the final two or three candidates. Those final candidates will then be contacted for a final round of interviews before the final selection is made.
Kinlaw formally announced his retirement at the town’s budget retreat in March.
In an earlier interview, Kinlaw said he began his career in law enforcement on Saturday, Aug. 28, 1981, and so it was fitting that, once he made the decision to hang up the badge, his effective retirement date would also be Aug. 28.
Kinlaw worked his way up through the ranks before making chief in 2000. He will have served 34 years as a law enforcement officer — all with the town of Elizabethtown.
—Erin Smith can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.