March 27, 2012, was Police Chief Alex Hayes Day.
The Omaha City Council proclaimed the day in Hayes' honor to recognize the outgoing chief during a brief ceremony at Tuesday's council meeting.
“His involvement in our community has been great and outstanding, and I will miss you terribly,” council member Ben Gray said to Hayes.
Meanwhile, the search to replace Hayes is under way. As of Tuesday, 13 people have applied as part of a nationwide search for the city's next police chief, said Aida Amoura, Mayor Jim Suttle's spokeswoman.
Applications will be accepted through May 15, meaning additional candidates are likely to vie for the position.
Hayes, whose last day is Friday, will be replaced on an interim basis by Deputy Police Chief David Baker.
Baker, who has said he's likely to apply for the permanent position, was at Tuesday's ceremony, along with other Police Department officials, Hayes and some of his family and friends.
“My sincere hope is we've made things better for the city as a whole,” said Hayes, who said he would remain involved in the community.
The council proclamation noted Hayes' community policing efforts.
“In addition to being a husband and father, Chief Hayes worked tirelessly to implement and employ many highly successful neighborhood problem solving tactics within the Omaha Police Department and the Omaha community, making it a safer and more enjoyable place to live,” the proclamation reads.
Hayes started in the department on Nov. 17, 1986, and was promoted to captain and commander of the city's northeast precinct in January 2008. He served there briefly before he was promoted to deputy police chief and commander of the department's Criminal Investigations Bureau in November 2008.
By then, Hayes had already worked in some of the department's most high-profile positions, including stints in the city's homicide, gang, narcotics, crime analysis/intelligence and child victim/sex assault units.
Hayes, who served as chief for 2½ years, is the city's 31st police chief and only the second African-American to serve in the position. Suttle has called Hayes “one of the best appointments I made.”
Candidates to replace Hayes will be screened during the application process, then take a written test and undergo an interview conducted by police chiefs from around the country, said Human Resources Director Richard O'Gara.
From there, the city will develop an “eligibility list” of candidates, and forward the names of the top five to 10 candidates for final interviews, O'Gara said.
Finalists will go through interviews with Suttle and a panel of community members that city officials have declined to publicly identify.
A permanent replacement is expected to be named by the end of June.
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