COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — The process to hire a new Columbus Police Chief is well underway. Interviews for those who made the shortlist are scheduled for next month.

Those names are not being released. But Interim Police Police Chief Stoney Mathis told WRB: he has applied for the job.

He has picked up a powerful ally in his attempt to secure the job full-time — Musscogee County Sheriff Greg Countryman.

During a recent interview, Countryman was asked if he supported Mathis getting the police chief’s job.

“Absolutely,” the sheriff replied. “I support Chief Mathis 1,000 percent. He’s a good man. I’ve had the privilege of working with him. We speak, if not every day, every other day. We communicate well. And I think that it is of great benefit to all the citizens. When you have a police chief and you have a sheriff that can collectively work together in harmony for the citizens of Muscogee County.”

Mathis is a fan of the sheriff’s — and in fact credits Countryman and his deputies in helping hold down crime as the police department deals with severe staff shortages. The Columbus Police Department is down about 150 sworn officers out of a budgeted 488.

“The last couple of years, when everything’s been going on and the sheriff has and his deputies filled that gap, and had it not been for the sheriff, the crime rate probably would be worse than it really is,” Mathis told the Rotary Club of Columbus last month.

Countryman’s response?

“That’s a very accurate statement,” he said. “You know, we don’t go out to wear a big ‘S’ on our chest. We want to do the job. I’m very honored to have an interim police chief as Stoney Mathis. He gets it. He knows that we have a problem. He’s willing to roll up his sleeves and get out here with us.”

That has not been always been the case. Last year, an altercation between police officers and deputies happened in the Muscogee County jail Sallyport.

Countryman has a theory on why he believes the two departments are working better together.

“I believe that perhaps because he understands the dynamics of the interactions between a police chief and a sheriff,” Countryman said. “And that makes it a little bit easier for him. And he also worked on a drug task force for many, many years. So, when he walked in, he was able to see clearly what we were doing.”

Columbus Mayor Skip Henderson has said the city could have a new police chief in late September, or early October. Council will have to approve the hire.

Sheriff Countryman was Chuck’s guest this week on the Sunday Conversation. To see the full interview, go to

Here is the complete Sunday Conversation.

Part 1

Part 2