Wilmington's Chief of Police, Ralph Evangelous, is a finalist for the Chief of Police in Savannah Georgia.
CHIEF DOES INTERVIEW WITH WECT:
According to Chief Evangelous, he was approached by a job group who thought he would be a good fit in Savannah. He did some research and decided to send in his application.
"The process is ongoing right now. I don't know where it is going, if anywhere," said Evangelous, "all I want to say is I really enjoy this community, this is home. So we'll just see how things work out."
Evangelous said he has loved working with the men and women of the Wilmington Police Department and he is not being forced out in anyway.
"Absolutely not," said Evangelous, in response to our reporter's question whether or not he felt pressure to leave, "nothing like that. I've got great support, the mayor, city council, town manager, so absolutely not. That's not the issue whatsoever."
Evangelous is one of three finalist for Chief of Police of the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department, according to the Chatham County Manager Lee Smith.
Evangelous has served as Chief of the Wilmington Police Department since 2004.
The other finalist are William Heim, Chief of the Reading, Pennsylvania Police Department, and Joseph Lumpkin, Chief of the Athens-Clark County Police Department.
114 total applicants from 29 states applied for the position.
According to the release from the Chatham city manager, Evangelous and the other finalist will travel to Savannah within the next three weeks to meet with county and city leaders and members of the community.
On Friday WPD officials said Chief Evangelous wouldn't be making any comment on his new job opportunity. On Tuesday, they said Evangelous was on vacation, and wouldn't be speaking that day either.
However, the chief did recently do a phone interview with a television station in Savannah.
He told reporters there he thought Savannah and Wilmington were similar cities with similar issues.
"Well I've been here 10 years and it's been a very successful run," said Evangelous over the phone. "I've been actually following Savannah since the merger took place back in 04-05, just following what's going on there and some of the history and some of the things that have occurred. I just find it an intriguing place."
The Chief is scheduled to give a presentation at Tuesday's city council meeting regarding police tactics in Wilmington following the events that took place in Ferguson, Missouri.
Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo said that it would be sad to see Evangelous leave Wilmington, but he would be happy for the chief if he secured the new position.
Saffo said he didn't know about the new job possibility until Evangelous called him Friday morning.
The Mayor said he's always considered Evangelous a big city chief, and said he praises him for his dedication to the community.
"I told him congratulations. I've always thought a lot of Chief Evangelous. He's a great chief," Saffo said.
The mayor elaborated that no hard feelings would be held if Evangelous chose to leave Wilmington.
"He's done a lot of things for us and I told him if he gets the job, good for him and good for Savannah, and if he doesn't get the job I would still want him as our chief."
Saffo admits youth violence did spike last year, but he said other than that, crime rates have been getting lower every year Evangelous has been chief.
He said no one from the City of Wilmington was trying to force Evangelous out of town.
"If you look at our crime statistics since 2002, crime has dropped every single year that the chief has been in this position, and he's done a great job. Obviously there are some disgruntled folks and you're going to have that with a city of over 100,000 people," said Saffo about Evangelous.
Saffo said that if Evangelous leaves the WPD, the city will once again open up the vacant position to outsiders while also looking at internal candidates.