MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Selma Police Chief Spencer Collier is retiring at the end of July.
“Selma has some officers that are second to none and I am going to miss working with them,” said Collier.
He says retiring was the best decision for his health after ongoing back issue sustained in a car wreck several years ago.
“I am at a point where it is just getting harder and harder to be a police officer,” said Collier.
Among his biggest accomplishments: making the job safer for officers.
“Every officer has rifle plates, every officer has is assigned a patrol rifle, and I just yesterday got a grant approved at the U.S. Attorney’s Office to purchase a total of six license plate readers," said Collier. "These are just basic tools you have to have to solve crime. When I got there Selma had none of it. I felt I could make a difference and I felt like I have made a difference. But saying that Selma has a ways to go.”
Decreasing crime was also another top priority Collier achieved.
“Our homicide rate is down this year 300 percent. Our clearance rate of crime is about 60 percent. Put that in comparison three months before I got there, the Selma police officers walked off the job. And that same year there were 16 homicides that only three were solved. I felt I could make a difference, and I felt like I have made a difference,” said Collier.
Mayor Darrio Melton, who appointed Collier to the position back in 2017, believes this is a big loss for the city.
“It is my hope the people feel the changes came because of his leadership," said Melton. “The partnerships with federal agencies that was able to come to the table because of his history working at the highest level in the state it paid dividends for the city. The attributes, the skills the talent he brought to the table difficult to find in any other chief that we will try to get.”
Last year, the Selma City Council passed an ordinance to remove Melton’s authority to appoint the city’s police chief, fire chief and tax collector. Earlier this year a judge dismissed the mayor’s lawsuit against the council challenging the ordinance. Mayor Melton says there has been a lawsuit filed in the Alabama Supreme Court challenging that ruling.
"What I know and have witnessed is over the last several months and even in the two years the council has yet to support this police chief. To me that is disheartening," said Melton.
Council President Corey Bowie says he surprised to hear that Collier would be retiring.
“I wish him all the best on his future endeavors and I would like to thank him for his service to our citizens,” said Bowie. “At this junction it is time for us to move forward. Safety is paramount in the city of Selma and it is critical now so more than ever.”
According to Bowie, since the fire chief resigned in April they’ve been working to form a search committee, but expects they will need to name a replacement for police chief immediately.
"My forecast would probably be in the next two weeks," said Bowie.
He points to the weed and seed program grant as the motivation to get someone in that role as soon as possible.
“You are looking at one million dollars that we need to go ahead and put together a plan for with the list the chief Collier submitted. We need someone knowledgeable and community oriented,” said Bowie.
As for what’s next for Collier, he plans to focus on his family and getting well. He did not rule out a return to politics. He says he’s contemplating a run for Alabama’s First congressional District seat.