Deputy appointed interim police chief

By Gus Bode

City manager hopes to hire permanent chief by mid-February

A week after Carbondale Police Chief R.T. Finney announced he was hired as the chief of Champaign Police, Carbondale City Manager Jeff Doherty secured an interim replacement for the position Tuesday by appointing Carbondale Deputy Chief Steve Odum.

Odum, 47, is scheduled to begin the position Nov. 14 – three days before Finney starts his regime in Champaign.

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Odum said he also intends to apply for Carbondale’s permanent police chief position.

Doherty, who hopes to hire a permanent chief by mid-February, said he is confident Odum can manage the department until he makes the final hiring decision.

“He’s got good command experience and the managerial training to do this interim position,” Doherty said. “I’m pleased that Steve agreed to serve in this capacity during the search process for a permanent police chief.”

Doherty said he plans to finalize the job announcement for permanent police chief by the end of this week.

Odum, who is a 26-year veteran with the Carbondale Police, said although he has been familiar with the department’s functions for a long time, he still needs to work hard to acquaint himself with the chief’s duties and contacts by mid-November.

“Probably the biggest thing is to personally meet some of the newer members of the City Council,” Odum said. “I’ve been in the department for 26 years, so I generally know city staff and have worked with them, but I don’t know everyone. Although Chief Finney thinks I know a lot of what’s going on, I’ve got a whole lot of questions for him, too.”

In order to ensure a smooth transition, Finney said he plans to introduce Odum to numerous city agencies and departments during the next few weeks.

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Finney said considering Odum’s experience and police education, he is sure the deputy chief will appropriately fill the position.

“He’s been here a number of years, so he knows what the chief of police does,” Finney said. “I think the transition’s going to be very smooth.”

Odum began service with the department in 1977 as a patrol officer. He was promoted to sergeant in 1981 and lieutenant in 1994. Odum served as a lieutenant until 2000, when he was appointed to the newly created deputy chief position.

Odum earned a bachelor’s degree in law enforcement from SIUC and also has a master’s degree in public administration from SIUC.

He is a 1991 graduate of the FBI National Academy and a 1994 graduate of the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board’s Executive Management Institute.

Odum said he plans to dive into his duties as interim police chief by developing the department’s budget for next year and working on the department’s re-accreditation.

Besides wrestling with his new duties as police chief, Odum must also consider who will handle the responsibilities that he formerly held as deputy chief. Those tasks include supervising the department’s patrol and investigations divisions.

“The city manager and I have talked about that, and I think there will probably be somebody who will take over some of those operations and functions,” Odum said. “I can’t keep up with those and the duties of the chief.”

Odum said although he is only guaranteed the job of interim chief, he intends to work as hard as necessary and hopes to acquire the permanent position in February.

“This isn’t just a caretaker position,” Odum said. “We’re going to keep things on an even keel and continue to do what we’ve been doing.”

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