The Benton City Council hired a new police chief Monday morning.
Lawrence "Lance" Charlson of Mattoon was approved 5-0 to replace Chief Mike O'Neill, who is retiring from his position with the Benton Police Department at the end of May.
Charlson, 57, is retired from the Illinois Secretary of State's office and owns a consulting firm that is involved with training new police hires.
"He also is an expert witness for task forces, and has been involved with training and consulting for police and military," Public Health and Safety Commissioner Dennis Miller said. "He also has some experience with Homeland Security."
The hiring of Charlson is subject to his acceptance, Miller said, and his starting date will be May 1. His salary will be $55,000, in addition to the benefits the current chief is receiving, Miller said.
Councilmen interviewed Charlson and another candidate during a 90-minute executive session at last Monday's regular meeting. The city had received 27 résumés for the position.
"Chief O'Neill has been tremendous," Miller said. "I have worked with him for two years, and it has been a great privilege to work with him. He has been an extremely professional police chief."
Miller said the city is in "Step 2" of the process of hiring a new fire chief to replace Mickey Marshall, who stepped down earlier this year for health reasons.
"We are in our initial review of résumés," Miller said. "We will probably be meeting within the next five to seven days to reduce that number to individuals who will fit into the situation and the position."
Target date for the hiring of a fire chief is the end of May, he said. David Moore is serving as acting chief of the Benton Fire Department.