Huntington narrows police chief search down to 2 candidates

West Virginia

HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK)—According to a release from the City of Huntington, the search for Huntington’s new police chief has been narrowed to two candidates: retired federal law enforcement officer Karl Colder and Huntington Police Lt. Phil Watkins.

The two were recommended to Mayor Steve Williams by a citizen-based search committee formed in August. Colder and Watkins are the two final candidates from a pool of 16 original applicants. Mayor Williams will interview the candidates soon, and he will present his choice to City Council for confirmation.

Below is some information about each candidate:

Karl Colder

Courtesy: City of Huntington

Resides: Ashburn, Va.

Education: Bachelor’s degrees in social relations/criminal justice and political science from Cheyney State University; master’s degree in human resources development and training from Seton Hall University.

Professional Experience

  • Thirty-two years of career leadership and professional investigative experience with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
  • Special Agent in Charge for DEA’s Washington, D.C. Field Division Office from February 2013 to May 2018. In this role, Colder directed all DEA operations throughout Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia and the District of Columbia.
  • Deputy Chief Inspector for DEA Headquarters Inspections Division, Office of Professional Responsibility, from April 2009 to February 2012. While in this position, Colder led all domestic and foreign administrative and criminal internal affairs program operations at the DEA.
  • President of Colder Allied Consulting, LLC, from May 2018 to present. Colder provides professional, consulting, advisory and SME services, with a specialization in program performance and information management support, to a variety of private companies.
  • Loudon County, Virginia Public Schools, August 2020 to present. Colder is a teacher/instructor of the Monroe Advanced Technical Academy’s Administration of Justice sequence, preparing students for entry-level employment in the law enforcement and criminal justice system as well as entrance into institutions of higher learning in the related fields of criminal justice, political science and law.

Phil Watkins

Courtesy: City of Huntington

Resides: Proctorville, Ohio

Education: Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Marshall University.

Professional Experience

  • Sworn officer for the Huntington Police Department for 22 years.
  • Assistant Commander of Criminal Investigations Bureau since April 2020. In this role, Lt. Watkins manages three detective units that are responsible for investigating violent crimes, family/juvenile/sexual assault crimes and property crimes.
  • Assistant Commander of Administration Bureau from July 2017 to March 2020. Lt. Watkins partnered with the bureau’s commander, police chief and City of Huntington’s Finance Department to manage HPD’s budget. In this role, Watkins also was an active member on the Compass Advisory Team in pursuing its mission to change the local and national approach to building resiliency and a growth mindset regarding the stress that first responders incur from exposure to critical incidents.
  • Commander/Supervisor in Patrol Bureau (evening and midnight shifts) from January 2016 to July 2017.
  • Office of Professional Standards, April 2012-December 2015.
  • Detective in Criminal Investigations Bureau, April 2001 to June 2002 and March 2003 to April 2012; Patrol Officer, October 1998 to April 2001.

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