Covington Police Capt. Craig Treadwell believes his 30 years with the city’s police force have given him the leadership and management skills to lead Covington forward as the next city manager despite lacking practical experience outside of public safety.
Treadwell, 49, is one of three finalists for the open Covington city manager job and the council members who supported his position as a finalist said he had an excellent interview and is capable of taking on and learning the city’s complex operations. However, other council members aren’t convinced he has the experience necessary to become city manager or that he can be the face for the whole city.
Treadwell, who is a native and lifelong resident of Covington, joined the Newton County Sheriff’s Office as a deputy in 1981 after graduating from high school. He then became a patrol officer for the Covington Police Department in 1982 and has worked with the city ever since.
At the age of 22, Treadwell was promoted to a lieutenant in the investigative position, and has been in a position of management ever since. Treadwell worked in the division for 12 years and handled investigations involving a wide variety of crimes committed against people.
Treadwell was promoted to captain and commander of the patrol division in 1997 and has been in that position for the past 15 years. Treadwell manages 34 people currently and handles scheduling, staffing and human resources responsibilities for the police department’s largest division (the Covington Police Department employs around 60 people). He said he’s also at times overseen the investigations division as well and has had overseen up to 50 people at one time.
He earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees while in the police department. He graduated with a bachelor of business administration from Mercer University in 1999 and earned a master’s degree in public administration from Troy University in 2002.
Ability to handle city manager?
One of the main questions regarding Treadwell’s candidacy for city manager is his lack of experience in general city government; however, Treadwell said he’s already learned many of the skills he would need as city manager.
Treadwell said he’s been a supervisor for 27 years and has had to manage people much older and much younger than him and lead them to accomplish a wide variety of tasks.
"That’s where my management experience comes from and what makes me qualified to do that job," Treadwell told The News in a Friday interview. "The city manager has a lot of other small departments under him; the management will be the same there as it is here. You have to earn people’s loyalty and respect a little bit at a time. That’s an advantage I have gained over the last 30 years."
Treadwell said he’s also had to learn many skills applicable to any administrative position, including hiring and firing, disciplining and promoting employees, strategic planning, budgeting, frequent oral and written communication and leadership.
"Leadership and management in the police department is generally under adverse situations; the city manager generally operates under a controlled environment. I’ll take the advantage of being able to lead under those types of pressures with me to that job as city manager, and under a controlled environment, I believe I could operate even more effectively when situations arise," he said.
Treadwell has never worked in any other city departments, but he said he’s coordinated with several different departments over the years. He works closely with the fire department on emergency calls, but has also worked with the electric and street departments for special events and on specific projects, and said he knows, respects and has the respect of many of those workers.
One of the difficulties for a city manager is operating with and trying to build consensus among a group of part-time elected officials who all bring different levels of experience and perspective. Treadwell said he has some similar experience from his time as commander of the East Metro Drug Enforcement Team. The multi-county drug task force has a control board comprised of three sheriffs, three police chiefs and one district attorney from the counties.
He said he dealt successfully with seven strong personalities and managed to establish new programs that increased the number of drug traffickers caught and kept the board satisfied. He also provided a PowerPoint presentation every month to let the board know exactly what was happening and how many guns and drugs and how much money was being confiscated.
Treadwell also co-owns real estate company Hat Creek Properties, with Covington Councilman Keith Dalton. The two men own five rental houses currently and have bought and flipped properties for years; the business was registered in April 2007, according to the Georgia Secretary of State’s office.
No conflict of interest
If a motion is ever made to appoint Treadwell as city manager, Dalton said that he is legally allowed to cast a vote as long as he discloses his connection to Treadwell. Dalton said he checked with City Attorney Ed Crudup and Assistant City Manager Frank Turner Jr. as well as other attorneys, all of whom said he could participate in the interview and search process and vote on motions related to Treadwell.
For his part, if he were named city manager, Treadwell said his relationship with Dalton would in no way affect his objectivity.
"A person does the right thing even when hard decisions are needed, and I will always do the right thing," Treadwell said.
Dalton and Treadwell both pointed out that they were friends going back to their days together in the police department and noted that many of the council members and city employees are friends.
"You have to put those relationships aside to make this business run. The city is a business, just like the police department is a business," Treadwell said. "To do business, you have to take personal relationships and set them aside, but (the reverse side is that) people trust you based on your personal relationship."
One concern raised by Councilwoman Ocie Franklin was whether someone from the police department would be received well by all of the public as a welcoming face or if some citizens would feel uncomfortable.
Treadwell said that former city manager Steve Horton also spent much of his career in the police department (though he also worked in other departments) and noted that many other city employees in other areas had law enforcement experience as well.
"During my 30 years (with the police department), I’ve made a lot of friends and a lot of acquaintances in this community and in every section of this community. I’ve worked at least 20 homicides over the years, made contacts and brought some closure for a lot of different families in this community and formed long, lasting relationships with those families," Treadwell said.
"I deal with the public well and on a daily basis, in both negative and positive situations."
There is a rumor that Treadwell has had a foreclosure, but Treadwell said that is completely false and background checks performed by The Mercer Group, the consulting firm that handled the search, and The News came back clean. (Background checks were performed on each of the three finalists.)
Jim Mercer, head of the Mercer Group, said Treadwell is well known in the city and has accomplished a lot with the police department. However, Mercer said Treadwell would have to work hard to get up to speed very quickly on the budget process, but Mercer noted, "I think he’s probably capable of doing that."
Treadwell applied for the city manager job because he wants to stay in Covington and can’t rise any further in the Covington Police Department, given the fact Stacey Cotton is entrenched as police chief.
Treadwell said his vision for the city is to work closely with the council and mayor to recruit large industries and support small businesses to help the community thrive. He also wants to see a closer relationship with the county.
Treadwell and his wife Jill, have a 21-year-old daughter Rachel, and son Jack, who is a junior at Eastside High School.