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HB mayor to look locally for permanent police chief

By Kathy Prucnell, Islander Reporter

Interim Chief Dale Stephenson

Holmes Beach Mayor Carmel Monti announced Dec. 26 he had switched from his prior plan to conduct a statewide search to a closer-to-home search for a permanent police chief for the department now headed by interim Chief Dale Stephenson.

    About a week after former HBPD Chief Jay Romine announced on Dec. 7 his last day would be Dec. 20, Monti named Stephenson to the position, and Stephenson asked to be considered for the permanent position until his retirement date of July 31, 2016.

    Romine’s last day was Dec. 20, following 19 years in the city’s top law enforcement spot and 26 years in the department. He and Stephenson came to the HBPD at the same time, and both filed for retirement on the same day.

    Rather than the statewide or national search by the Florida Police Chiefs Association previously announced by the mayor, Monti decided to cast a more local net to find a department head for the 21 full-time employees and one part-time employee in the HBPD after talking to area local law enforcement officials.

    “There’re a lot of known quantities locally,” he said. “I think I should do a more local search.”

    Mayor for a little more than a month, Monti’s been trying to talk to the entire department, he said. He’s also spoken with officials in Bradenton Beach, Anna Maria, Longboat Key and Manatee County, including Sheriff Brad Steube.

    “I’m in no rush,” Monti said. “I think it’s well under control with Dale.”

    Stephenson, who filled the position Dec. 21 on an interim basis, said Dec. 26 he was looking forward to continuing as police chief, and that there’d be no personnel changes from Romine’s administration and the community style of policing under Romine also would continue.

    Stephenson said he told the mayor that the most important asset he could provide the city would be “stability.”

    Like Romine, Stephenson elected to participate in the Florida Retirement System Deferred Retirement Option Plan and has a retirement date no later than July 31, 2016.

    Romine is officially still on the city payroll until February, which is the effective date of his resignation.

    Monti said a number of candidates for the chief position have offered their resumes for consideration, and he’s been asking each one to provide an outline of what they’d accomplish in their first year as the Holmes Beach police chief.

        The city charter provides that the mayor appoint the police chief as well as other department heads, on the condition that the city commission provides concurrence before a department head is hired.

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