Belmont has picked a new police chief to replace chief who lasted only a year

Belmont named Chad Hawkins as its chief of police on Tuesday, according to the Gaston Gazette.

Hawkins has 20 years police experience, including four years as Cherryville’s police chief, the Gazette reported. He was hired as an assistant chief in Belmont in February, but has been serving as the interim chief since the departure of Police Chief Skip Clark on March 13, it was reported.

Clark resigned after just over a year on the job. Clark’s hiring was controversial from the start. The Observer’s news partner WBTV reported in April that he wasn’t properly certified to be a law enforcement officer in North Carolina.

Belmont leaders say they knew that when they hired Clark in February 2016. Clark worked as a police officer for 36 years in Georgia and Florida before retiring as chief of the Peachtree City, Ga., force in 2014.

The Belmont Police Department serves about 10,000 people in an eastern Gaston County community that is about 10 square miles.