Grove City Manager Bruce Johnson said Wednesday that the city is moving closer to hiring a new police chief.

“The advisory panel has reviewed all the applications and narrowed them down to six candidates,” Johnson said.

He said he hopes to interview those six candidates next week.

“I expect to make a decision about the new chief as soon as those interviews are done,” Johnson said.

He noted that 23 people applied for the job and that between them they had 550 years of experience in law enforcement.

The advisory panel is made up of seven citizens who represent a cross-section of the Grove community.

“My requirements for the panel were intelligence and diverse backgrounds,” Johnson said.

Included on the panel are:  Bob Ellis, a former highway patrolman; First National Bank President Ed Hamilton; Business Owner Pam Siddons; Health Care Professional Dana Chouteau; Senior Citizen Bill McNally; FOP President Michael O’Herin, and Grove Middle School Principal Pat Dodson.

Johnson said that, among other things, the panel identified community issues and qualities they want in a chief.

Assistant Chief Mark Morris has been acting as interim chief since former Chief Ivan Devitt resigned in August, 2007.

Before the city could move ahead on hiring a new chief, an old ordinance had to be changed.

In January, City Council voted to amend ordinance No. 550, Part 13, Public Safety, Chapter 4, concerning the employment of a police chief. Previously, the police chief was hired by and answerable to the city council, but now that the ordinance has been amended, the police chief will be hired by the city manager instead.