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City names new police chief

Blair Myhand starts at Hendersonville police chief on Feb. 15. Blair Myhand starts at Hendersonville police chief on Feb. 15.

Hendersonville City Manager John Connet announced his selection for Hendersonville’s Chief of Police Friday morning.

Blair Myhand, police chief for the city of Clayton, will be the city’s next chief. He starts Feb. 15 at a salary of $107,000.

A police officer for 26 years, Myhand started with the Metro Washington, DC, and moved to Apex. In May 2017, he became police chief of Clayton.

Myhand had been placed on non-disciplinary leave from the Clayton police department in what he described as shift in the political wind. Connet acknowledged that political differences sometimes do arise in the relationship between elected officials and high ranking administrators.

“We work for elected officials and it is their community," Connet said. "There will be times that city managers or police chiefs may make elected officials unhappy.” He said the leave Myhand faced did not concern the city when they looked into it—that it came down to philosophic differences. “Clayton a few years ago hired a manager and police chief that they wanted to be very professional and raise the standards. Over time, things changed and the council felt like they needed to go in a different direction, which is perfectly within their right.”

Myhand stood for “the professionalism he brought to every place he has been, the accountability and standards. He has very high standards for his law enforcement,” Connet said. “Blair came to the top quickly.”

“We knew that this was going to be a difficult recruitment period,” Connet said, “I would say one of the toughest jobs and responsibilities in our country right now is being the chief of police. We are a divided nation. We have a third of the population that believes in strict law and order, we have a third of the population that believes in defunding the police, and a third that is somewhere in the middle.”

“We need to continue to work to improve law enforcement and help law enforcement evolve.”

Myhand satisfied the criteria the city was looking for, Connet said. “We ultimately want to make sure we hold our officers accountable. ... He realizes law enforcement has to evolve… He understands he has to work for the community.”

"If you were to ask me why I'm on leave, honestly I can't tell you because the town has not been forthcoming," he said on Jan. 5 when he appeared along with the other finalist to introduce himself and answer questions from the media and the public. "The winds have shifted there and we're not blowing in the same direction. ... This is a much bigger picture going on and I would encourage people to step back and get a bigger picture of what's going on."

Hendersonville had not had a white police chief, aside from interim chiefs, since 1987. Myhand said his experience, including his service in majority black Washinton, D.C., had prepared him well to interact in a positive way with the African American community. The other finalist for the Hendersonville Chief of Police was Gerald Childress, an officer and former deputy chief of the Mooresville police department.