Eight to consider
1) Richard Pennington, chief of police, Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta had been named America’s most violent city three years running in 2002, when Pennington came from New Orleans, where he had dramatically turned the tide against that city’s sky-high crime levels. Pennington completely reorganized Atlanta’s department and has dramatically reduced violent crime.
2) Gil Kerlikowske, chief of police, Seattle, Washington
Boston contacted Kerlikowske during the search for Paul Evans’s replacement; he was also wooed by San Francisco for the top job there at around the same time. Before coming to Seattle in 2000, he served as chief in three other cities, including Buffalo, New York, and also as the US Department of Justice’s deputy director for community-oriented policing programs.
3) Stan Knee, chief of police, Austin, Texas
Knee recently told an interviewer that he has no intention of leaving Austin, where he has been chief for nearly a decade. Under his watch, crime has remained low in Austin — a city similar to Boston in many ways. And last year, his homicide squad solved all 26 of the city’s murders.
4) Paul M. Walters, chief of police, Santa Ana, California
Walters, a proponent of community-oriented policing, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Police Department top job that went to William Bratton in 2002. Santa Ana, a growing city of 350,000 near Los Angeles, has remained relatively crime-free since Walters became chief in 1988.
5) Theron Bowman, chief of police, Arlington, Texas
Bowman received a major national police-executive award and has implemented an innovative strategy that assigns accountability to community policing.
6) Thomas Warren, chief of police, Omaha, Nebraska
In 2000, Omaha had 37 homicides — just two fewer than Boston. Since then, it has averaged around 28 a year, compared with Boston’s 65 — and has a homicide-arrest rate of about twice that of Boston.
7) John Timoney, chief of police, Miami, Florida
Former Philadelphia police chief and a finalist — second only to Bratton — for the Los Angeles job in 2002, Timoney has seen anything and everything that Boston can throw at him. Crime in Miami has stabilized under his watch.
8) Norman D. Williams, chief of police, Wichita, Kansas
Under Williams, the homicide-arrest rate in Wichita has been essentially 100 percent. The city has received national recognition for its community-policing success.