Covington City Council continues to search for a permanent chief of police.

Chris Smith has served on an interim basis since the departure of former Chief Anthony Morgan in January.

The first round of dialogue came from City Manager Krystal Onaitis during Tuesday’s work session.

Onaitis gave a presentation to council regarding the results of a survey that was taken online from Tuesday, Oct. 8, through Friday, Oct. 18.

Onaitis stated that there were 202 responses on the survey and 100 percent of those were completed in an average of 56 seconds.

“That’s a great thing when talking about doing a survey and trying to engage someone, get their attention and get someone in and out,” Onaitis said.

Onaitis also thanked the individuals who took the time to respond to the five question survey.

The first of the questions was how important is it for a potential candidate to have a strong background and experience in community policing engagement.

“Out of the 202 responses, we actually had 114 folks that agree it was strongly important that someone has experience in that community policing engagement. We had 10 that agreed with that,' Onaitis stated.

The next question was how important is it to have someone with experience in managing officers in a community that is similar to Covington.

Onaitis stated that the survey indicated 116 participants strongly agreed that it was important.

There were 60 who agreed with that idea and 17 that somewhat agreed.

The third question focused on the importance of the candidate being able to offer expertise in modern policing policy.

“As you know, policing is forever changing, right? Even what was the standard one year ago is not the standard now,” Onaitis said to council.

The results of the third question showed that out of the 202 participants, 99 strongly agreed that it was important that a candidate offer expertise in modern policing policy, while 76 agreed and 21 somewhat agreed.

“Little more of an interesting split out there,” Onaitis said of the results for the third survey question.

The fourth question focused on the importance of a candidate having a background in collaboration/coordination of all aspects of public safety.

Fifty-six participants of the 202 that took part in the survey strongly agreed that it was important for a candidate to have that background.

Twenty-nine agreed that it was important and nine somewhat agreed that it was important for a candidate to have the ability to collaborate/coordinate in all aspects of public safety.

The final question focused on area of residence of the survey participants.

Out of the 202 participants, 131 resided within the 24426 Zip Code.

“I know that kind of splits in some instances, but overall it does capture the city of Covington. So, we were very pleased with that,” Onaitis stated.

Onaitis also said that 30 survey participants resided in Alleghany County, and there were eight from Clifton Forge, among others from different localities.

Onaitis expressed how pleased she was with the survey by saying, “I think that’s really good when we look at the demographic information, just from a very high level. There are folks in other areas that have in interest in who we select.”

Onaitis concluded her report by stating the next steps in the process of selecting the permanent chief of the Covington Division of Police.

She stated that interviews will be conducted by telephone and in-person interviews will start within the next two weeks.

Onaitis also reported that a finalization of candidates will take place by the end of 2019, so that the selected candidate can be placed on board by the end of January 2020.

The final part of this process, according to Onaitis, is to conduct another community survey to identify community focus areas.

The next part of the police chief dialogue that council entertained Tuesday night came in the form of a public endorsement.

Former Mayor Stephanie Clark took her opportunity during public comment to officially endorse Smith to be permanently appointed chief of the Covington Division of Police.

“I want my comment to be public and be known. We’ve been in a lot of transitions in the city of Covington. I really do feel as though right now we have a great acting chief,” Clark said.

She continued, “I wanted to say that things in our community, people talk about. The talk that I hear is all good about Chris’ leadership.”

Clark concluded her comments by saying, “We can give our opinion, but ultimately it is up to you Ms. Onaitis to make that decision, but I wanted my voice to be heard loud and clear that I am supporting our interim, acting chief of police Chris Smith.”

The following items were voted to be placed on the agenda for the regular November meeting of city council to be held Tuesday, Nov. 12:

— First reading regarding changes in filing requirements for tax relief for the elderly and disabled;

— To consider an appointment to the Regional Commission;

— To consider three appointments to the Alleghany Highlands Economic Development Corporation Board;

— To consider second reading of Ordinance O-19-11 regarding the Joint Economic Development and Growth Sharing Agreement;

— To consider Appropriation Resolution R-19-58 regarding the Health Department in the amount of $3,365.67;

— To consider Resolution R-19-62 regarding the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan.