The Charlottesville City Council approved the appointment of Colonel Alfred Thomas as new police chief Monday. Thomas will replace current Chief Tim Longo, who announced his May 1 retirement in Nov. 2015, and will be the first African-American chief of police for Charlottesville. The appointment process for police chief involves an application and numerous interviews. Miriam Dickler, director of communications for the City of Charlottesville, said that once the application pool is narrowed, phone interviews are conducted by the city manager, the human resources director and other members of senior staff, including Longo. “I did not have any involvement in the actual appointment process,” Longo said. “I did, however, assist with the initial telephone interviews of about a dozen candidates.” Dickler said those candidates the interview panel thinks are the strongest are asked to come in for in-person interviews. “The in-person candidates are interviewed by a number of panels, in this case there were two panels of community members, a police staff panel and a city leadership panel,” Dickler said. The city manager then selects a candidate to introduce to the council, which will formally consider and appoint the chief at a regular council meeting. “All of the interview and selection process up until the candidate meets with council is handled by city staff,” Dickler said. “In the process, folks are looking for someone who has the right qualifications, but also the person who seems to best fit Charlottesville.” Thomas is scheduled to begin May 23. Dickler said Captain Gary Pleasants will serve as acting police chief in the interim between Longo retiring and Thomas assuming the position. Pleasants said maintaining community support and respect is an ongoing challenge for the police department today. “In today’s climate, the most difficult part of being a chief is maintaining the support and respect of the community,” Pleasants said. Pleasants said although he thinks the police department has such a level of trust with the Charlottesville community, it requires constant effort to maintain it.