Sunday, Dec 21, 2014

St. Pete mayor names police chief candidates

BY CHRISTOPHER O’DONNELL
Tribune staff

Published:

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— Three outside candidates and one assistant police chief are in the running to be St. Petersburg’s new police chief.

Mayor Rick Kriseman on Thursday announced the four finalists to replace Chuck Harmon, the city’s longest serving police chief, who retired in January.

They are: St. Petersburg Assistant Police Chief Melanie Bevan; Jerry Geier, police chief in Goodyear, Ariz.; Terrence Pierce, a police captain in Montgomery County, Md., and Thaddeus Reddish, an assistant police chief in New Haven, Conn.

The mayor met with police officers, residents and city staff before choosing the four from a shortlist of 10 candidates.

“A common theme I have heard from police officers, members of the community and my own team with respect to a new police chief was ‘leadership,’” Kriseman said in a prepared statement. “I believe these four candidates embody that leadership. I look forward to introducing these candidates to our police personnel, and to the citizens of the Sunshine City.”

Bevan has been with the city’s police department for 26 years, serving at all ranks and as assistant chief since 2012. In her application, she states she will help to oversee construction of a new police station and a better work-home life balance for officers, and will go after other funding sources such as grants and business partnerships.

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

Geier has worked for law enforcement agencies for more than 30 years, according to his application. The Goodyear police department he leads has 128 employees and serves 70,000 residents. He also has experience in Florida, serving as a colonel with the state division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco, and as a bureau chief in Osceola County Sheriff’s Office.

Reddish has 22 years experience in law enforcement. The New Haven Police Department where he has risen to assistant chief serves 130,000 residents and employs 400 officers.

Absent from the list of finalists is St. Petersburg Assistant Police Chief Luke Williams, who was criticized by Kriseman in a memo for attending a community meeting March 11 at Mount Zion Progressive Missionary Baptist Church where officers expressed concerns about the department’s promotion process.

The four finalists will be invited to St. Petersburg for in-person interviews and appear at a public forum. Residents will have an opportunity to weigh in on the selection online.

codonnell@tampatrib.com

(727) 215-7654

Twitter: @codonnellTBO

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