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COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) — The current interim chief and a long-time police captain are the only two internal candidates to be the permanent Columbus police chief.

Interim Chief Tony Carleton, who joined the force last fall after stepping down as Tupelo Police Chief, and Capt. Fred Shelton met this week’s application deadline. Shelton was one of the finalists for the Starkville chief’s job earlier this year.

Assistant Chief Joe Johnson, who has served as interim chief on several occasions and been with the department 35 years, picked up an application but did not apply.

A third external candidate from Columbus also applied.

A search committee will interview at least the internal candidates next week and make a recommendation at the May 20 City Council meeting if they feel the internal candidates meet the department’s needs.

The City Council decided 10 days ago to start within an internal search before seeking outside applicants.

Carleton has been the odds-on favorite for the job since Chief Selvain McQueen retired abruptly last month.

Thursday night, at Carleton’s recommendation, the city’s Civil Service Commission approved a change to city rules to allow a new police officer to have 365 days rather than 183 to move into Lowndes County. Carleton has a home in Tupelo where his family lives and a tentative residence in Columbus.

He told the Civil Service Commission it’s often difficult for new hires to move their families in six months, especially if school-aged children and a working spouse are involved.

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