Leader Blues

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

TOP STORY >> Chief promises professionalism

By JOHN HOFHEIMER
Leader staff writer

At 5:45 p.m. Monday, District Judge Barbara Elmore swore in Lonoke’s new police chief, Rick Sliger, during a meet-and-greet sponsored by the Lonoke Chamber of Commerce at the Depot.

More than 100 people from all segments of the community turned out for the event, according to chamber director John Garner.

“I was real pleased with the turnout,” said Mayor Thomas Privett.
He said a really diverse group, including teachers, doctors, workers and members of the business community attended the reception.

The chief told those assembled that he would stress community policing and he promised to bring integrity back to the police department.

Sliger said he would need three things to be successful. “I need to have a constant, committed dedication to professionalism. I know I am going to have to surround myself with extremely well-qualified individuals who can apply the law in a fair and equal professional manner and with respect for all the citizens of Lonoke.

“I know that I’ll need the support of the community,” he concluded.

Sliger said it was too early to say what changes may be made. “I’ve been going through personnel and policies, he said.
Sliger has met with the people in his department and has been meeting with individuals.

“I told them they should expect to be treated fairly and that we would work together to get the job done,” he said. “We’re going to move forward from here.

The new chief said everyone had been “extremely gracious” and went out of their way to make him feel welcome.”
“We were impressed by him and his wife,” said Garner.

Sliger, 47, was selected from 29 applicants for the job. At the time he was chief of the Eagle, Colo., Police Department, according to Privett.

Both the Eagle mayor and newspaper editor spoke highly of Sliger when contacted by The Leader.
“We’re all disappointed to see him go,” said Eagle Mayor Jon Stavney.

Sliger replaces Jay Campbell, who resigned in early February after Lonoke County Prosecutor Lona McCastlain charged him with several drug and theft-related crimes.

After interviewing five finalists for the chief’s job, the search committee recommended him with only one dissenting vote and al-though some aldermen felt slighted when the mayor hired Sliger without seeking their endorsement, the Lonoke City Council approved an ordinance in support of his hiring at the April meeting.

Sliger has been in law enforcement for “10 or 11 years,” he said, most recently as police chief of Eagle, a town of about 5,300.

Born in Conway, Sliger grew up in Georgia, went to William and Mary College in Virginia and then to Harding University at Searcy.

He studied psychology and spent a lot of time in Bible studies, he said. He’s been married for nine years.