Former TBI Director Larry Wallace is the surprise choice of Mayor Bob Corker as the next Chattanooga Police chief.
Mayor Corker said at a press conference late Tuesday morning that he would be recommending Mr. Wallace to the City Council at their 3 p.m. meeting today.
Mr. Wallace had been hired by the mayor as a consultant to help pick the new police chief.
He replaces Jimmie Dotson, who is stepping down at the end of the month.
Mayor Corker said a number of people were interviewed for the job, but he said Mr. Wallace was the best person for the post and had agreed to accept it.
Mr. Wallace, who was present at the press conference, said he was among the most surprised at being asked to take the job.
He will be getting about $117,000 per year. Chief Dotson, who had been here six years, was being paid $128,000.
Mayor Corker said, "With 40 years of law enforcement experience, 11 as the Director of Tennessee's top law enforcement agency, Mr. Wallace has the talent and skill necessary to reduce crime in Chattanooga and strengthen and build our police force. Our community is very fortunate he has agreed to serve as Chief of Police."
"Although this is not a position that I pursued, I deeply respect Mayor Bob Corker and I am honored to have been asked to serve in his administration as Chief of the Chattanooga Police Department," said Mr. Wallace. "Over the past month I have gotten to know the employees of the department and the Chattanooga City Council and am very impressed with the high caliber personnel serving the city. Together we will work hard to keep the citizens of Chattanooga safe and to identify and develop the staff within the department who will be the leaders of tomorrow."
During his comments, Mayor Corker also thanked the internal panel of advisors who participated in the interviews and who unanimously endorsed Mr. Wallace's appointment as Chief. Included on that panel were Michael Compton, Chief of Staff; Kenardo Curry, Administrator of Neighborhood Services; Ken Jordan, Special Assistant to the Mayor; David Eichenthal, Chief Finance Officer; and Todd Womack, Communications Director.
Mayor Corker told the City Council on Tuesday afternoon that Chief Deputy Charles Cook, Chief Deputy Steve Parks, Captain Mark Rawlston, and Captain Skip Vaughn were the final four internal candidates.
A special meeting of the council's safety committee for further questioning on the Wallace appointment was set for Thursday at 3 p.m.
Governor Phil Bredesen in October announced the retirement of Mr. Wallace, whose law enforcement career has spanned nearly 40 years. He left the TBI November 30.
Wallace, 59, at the time said he left the office as he entered it, "with the utmost respect for the agency and its mission."
“I have devoted my life to law enforcement, so I have mixed emotions as my retirement nears,” Wallace said. “A great trust was placed in As required by statute, David Jennings, the deputy director in charge of me, and I have tried to honor that trust.”
In 1992, Governor Ned McWherter appointed Wallace TBI Director. In 1998, Governor Don Sundquist reappointed him to a second term. Wallace continued his second term with the inauguration of Governor Bredesen this past January.
Wallace began his law enforcement career in 1964 with the Athens Police Department. In 1967, he was appointed to the Tennessee Highway Patrol and became a special agent with the TBI in 1973. He later took a leave of absence from the Bureau and was twice elected McMinn County Sheriff. In 1979, he was named Tennessee Sheriff of the Year by the Tennessee Sheriff’s Association.
In 1980, Wallace returned to the TBI and four years later was promoted to Special Agent in Charge of the Criminal Investigation Division. He remained in that capacity until 1987, when he was appointed as Colonel and Commanding Officer of the Tennessee Highway Patrol. The following year, Wallace was named Deputy Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Safety.
Wallace holds a bachelor of science degree from Middle Tennessee State University and a master’s degree in criminal justice administration from Tennessee State University. He is also a graduate of the prestigious FBI National Executive Institute.
Wallace and his wife, Katie, had planned to move back to their hometown of Athens, Tennessee. The Wallaces’ have three children and three grandchildren.