And then there were two -- maybe

The search for Atlanta’s new police chief has been one strange tango. The five finalists have fallen one-by-one instead of the usual, ego-sparing winner-takes-all announcement.

Sam Pettway, senior director for the executive search firm Spencer Stuart, says this is his doing. During a normal business search, he tells candidates immediately when they’ve fallen off the short list.

“We’re dealing with people’s lives here,” Pettway explains. What he wasn’t counting on was that the press would be constantly calling the candidates to get a progress report. “It’s had the unintended consequence of putting more heat on the final selection.” It’s also made the search seem a little cruel.

At one point, Pettway says he had informed an officer that he was no longer in the mix only to find a subsequent story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that still identified the candidate as a finalist.

The finalists to replace Chief Beverly Harvard are said to be New Orleans Police Chief Richard Pennington and Illinois State Police Deputy Director Andre Parker.

On Friday, Mayor Shirley Franklin’s office issued a statement that said she would continue to move deliberately in her search for all top city positions. “Don’t expect this process to be completed for at least another week.”??

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