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Friday, Oct 24, 2014

Public can meet St. Pete police chief finalists Thursday

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ST. PETERSBURG — Residents will have an opportunity to meet and speak with the four finalists for the St. Petersburg police chief on Thursday.

The four will be available during an informal meeting from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Coliseum, 535 Fourth Ave. N.

The finalists are: Melanie Bevan, an assistant police chief with the St. Petersburg Police Department; Jerry Geier, the police chief in Goodyear, Ariz.; Terry Pierce, a captain with the Montgomery County Police Department in Rockville, Md.; and Thaddeus Reddish, an assistant police chief at the New Haven, Conn., police department.

The candidates are scheduled to meet with police personnel and with members of City Council earlier Thursday. They are scheduled interview with Mayor Rick Kriseman on Wednesday and Thursday. It is unknown when Kriseman is expected to make a final decision.

Interim Police Chief Dave DeKay sent a memorandum to his staff Monday with two opportunities for police troops to meet the candidates — one at the police station Thursday morning, and another at the Coliseum prior to the public meeting.

“Mayor Kriseman felt it was important to provide officers and police personnel a chance to meet the candidates in person,” DeKay wrote.

The public meeting at the Coliseum will be “a mix-and-mingle kind of atmosphere,” said Kevin King, Kriseman’s chief of staff.

“We don’t want to create a campaign environment – it’s not a debate or forum. It’s a chance to come and have a casual conversation,” he said.

The four were selected from a list of 10 candidates.

Bevan has been with the city’s department for 26 years, and she has been an assistant chief since 2012. In her application, she states she will help to oversee construction of a new police station and to provide a better work-home life balance for officers.

Pierce has been with the Montgomery County department for 24 years, a county with roughly the same population as Pinellas. His application acknowledges that an appointment as police chief would be a significant leap from his rank as captain.

Geier leads a Goodyear police department that has 128 employees and serves 70,000 residents. He was a colonel with the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco, and a bureau chief in Osceola County Sheriff’s Office.

Reddish is assistant chief of the New Haven Police Department which serves 130,000 residents and employs 400 officers.

Tribune reporter Christopher O’Donnell contributed to this report. sthompson@tampatrib.com

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