MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - Thursday night, September 26, Prichard Mayor Troy Ephriam announced his choice for the next Chief of Police, Jerry Speziale. If you Google Search Speziale, you will find a Wikipedia page, Twitter, Facebook, and even a YouTube account for him. FOX10 News dug deeper to find out more about Prichard’s possible next police chief.
It started in the Bronx, in the 1980s and 90s when Speziale said “crime was worse there than in Prichard,” said Speziale.
"It was very much like Prichard. There were all of the same problems. Same demographics and I was a police officer there,” said Speziale.
Speziale said that experience led to more opportunities in his career including being a sheriff, chief deputy, port authority superintendent, and now, pending council approval, the next police chief for the City of Prichard.
Speziale said he came across the position online as a member of several law enforcement organizations. During his interview, Speziale realized Mayor Ephriam had the same goal for Prichard.
"Our shared vision is to make the most professional, proficient, and effective law enforcement agency in Alabama. And that will be driven by our commitment to working with the community again to achieve a safer Prichard. I have a profound passion in serving in urban policing. I am challenged by the opportunities that are there,” said Speziale.
Listening to the community is important to Speziale, something he says will help the entire department.
"The measure of success, in making Prichard safer, will not be based on arrests alone. But by the reduction of crime, prevention of crime, and fear of crime felt by the community,” said Speziale.
Reaction in the City of Prichard was mixed about Speziale coming to the city…a man from the North coming to the South to turn the city around.
It’s been nine long months for the Prichard after Mayor Ephriam fired former police chief Jimmie Gardner. Now, a new man for the job, Speziale, is in the sights.
After Thursday night’s city council meeting, reaction was heard Friday about Mayor Ephriam’s choice for chief.
Jennifer Hinton is not pleased with knowing her city could be led by Speziale.
"He has applied for several other larger cities, for a police chief, has been candidates, top 10 where they did not hire this man. Now, all the bells are going off,” said Hinton.
She pointed to an online report that claimed Speziale in under federal investigation for leaving his former position as a county sheriff and taking his current position as deputy superintendent at the New York Port Authority and New Jersey Police Department, a position appointed by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
"He's under federal investigation and we want to know why would our mayor would hire someone that is under federal investigation instead of trying to find someone local, with similar qualifications, that doesn't have a horrible background,” said Hinton.
FOX10 News dug deeper into the reported investigation. Fact checkers found rumors but no evidence of an investigation.
"There's never been a federal investigation on me. There is never, nor is there never a federal investigation," said Speziale.
"I'm all for it. If he's going to talk the talk then walk the walk,” said Prichard resident Rosemary Harris.
Harris was pleased to hear someone will be guiding the city in the right direction. She said many of her neighbors feel the same way.
"Now, if he's going to come from Jersey to Prichard and make a change. We're all for it. But just don't say what you're going to do and get here and don't do nothing. Let's see what he's working with,” said Harris.
"As a chief, my first responsibility will be to promote a new direction for the department and that's both internally and externally. The measure of success, in making Prichard safer, will not be based on arrests alone. But by the reduction of crime, prevention of crime, and fear of crime felt by the community,” said Speziale.
Speziale told FOX10 News his approach will be “hands on” allowing for “trust, confidence, support, and guidance” within the department and with the community. He also said he will be “highly visible” in the community.
The Spanish Fort Toros won their second consecutive 5A State Championship, defeating Muscle Shoals 35-14.
Global civil rights icon Nelson Mandela, whose legacy is ending South African apartheid, has died.
Mobile County Sheriff's Office arrested 27-year-old John Hicks and 22-year-old Amber Trawick for a number of meth related charges including chemical endangerment of a child and trafficking illegal drugs.
Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson returned to the Port City Thursday, December 5 after spending several days in Hamburg, Germany for the Aviation Forum 2013.
Students at Council Traditional School had a lot to cheer about Thursday, December 5.The US Department of Education named Council a “National Blue Ribbon School.”