Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Kriseman goes off list, picks mystery candidate as next St. Petersburg police chief

ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman has picked a surprise candidate to lead the St. Petersburg Police Department, after eliminating all four known finalists over the weekend.

Kriseman would not say whom he selected but confirmed that the candidate accepted the offer.

So who got the job? The focus Sunday was on Clearwater police Chief Anthony "Tony" Holloway.

Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos confirmed to the Tampa Bay Times that Holloway was approached about the St. Petersburg job, but he did not know if a deal was inked.

"I have heard that they have contacted him," Cretekos said. "Chief Holloway is probably one of the finest candidates for the position of police chief in the Tampa Bay area and all of Florida."

Holloway has been on vacation and out of town, and could not be reached. Kriseman and interim Chief Dave DeKay said they would make an announcement Monday.

"I feel confident this individual is what we need to lead our department," Kriseman told the Times. "I was looking for someone I felt could heal, could fix, could bring us back to prominence we had at one time."

Kriseman praised all four other finalists but said none of them was the "complete package."

"Each one of the finalists had strengths," Kriseman said. "It became clear to me none of them fulfilled all the criteria."

Kriseman said Sunday that he was looking for someone who was a strong leader, data driven and had a commitment to community policing.

Holloway, 52, appears to fit that description.

He has deep ties to Pinellas County, having risen through the ranks in the Clearwater department, which is about half the size of St. Petersburg's. He became the city's first black captain before leaving in 2007 to lead the Somerville Police Department in Massachusetts. In 2010, he returned to the Clearwater department as chief. Since then, he has updated the agency's crime-tracking technology and required his officers to have more face-to-face contact with residents under a program called "Park, Walk and Talk."

Law enforcement officials and neighborhood leaders in Clearwater praised Holloway, who they said is especially attuned to residents' issues.

"He's done a great job in Clearwater," Cretekos said. "I only wish he'd stay in Clearwater."

If Kriseman plucks Holloway from Clearwater, he will likely set off a series of dominoes within the Tampa Bay law enforcement community.

Kriseman will also have to appease those in the community stunned — and stung — about the exclusion of popular Assistant Chief Melanie Bevan, as well as the public's reaction to him abandoning a search process he said would be inclusive.

"I think everybody's blind-sided," said council member Karl Nurse. "I didn't see this coming."

Holloway did not apply for the position and his name did not surface as a possibility until the eleventh hour, after it became clear the others weren't picked.

Detective Mark Marland, head of the police union in St. Petersburg, said rank and file officers understood all along that the mayor gets to pick the new chief.

But some feel the mayor has made a "mockery" of the search, he said.

"How transparent is it that we possibly have a chief that didn't apply and no one knew about?" Marland said. "(Kriseman) must have a different definition of transparency."

St. Petersburg has been without a permanent police chief since January, when Chuck Harmon retired after 12 years. His successor will be in charge of 750 employees and a $90 million annual budget.

Kriseman has said that selecting a new police chief would be among the biggest decisions of his first term. The city hired a head-hunting firm for $14,750 to help identify candidates.

Kriseman also invited the community to participate, encouraging people to tell him what they wanted in a chief and to evaluate the candidates. Many did. The mayor's inbox was flooded with emails and letters that nearly filled a 2-inch thick binder.

The majority of the correspondence was about Bevan, who quickly emerged as the favorite. Facebook pages sprung up, and stickers were printed.

Bevan, a 28-year veteran of the department, even garnered support from other heavyweights in the Tampa Bay law enforcement community, including Hillsborough Sheriff David Gee and Bevan's former partner, Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor.

A month ago, the four finalists interviewed with Kriseman and were introduced to the public in a series of meet-and-greets.

That led to another rush of support for Bevan.

Kriseman told the Times that he considered looking beyond the four finalists starting two or three weeks ago. He said he appreciated the feedback that came during the months-long public search process, which he called "valuable." Some of the feedback helped him focus on what he wanted. Other feedback made his decision tougher.

"There was a lot of clarity in the process," he said.

Kriseman notified the four named finalists this weekend that he had not selected them.

Jerry Geier, who runs a small department in Arizona, emailed the Times early Sunday and said the St. Petersburg job would not be his. The other three finalists were told Saturday.

"I hope we have found a rock star and someone who can hit the ground running because there are lots of complex issues to address," said council member Amy Foster. "This is the mayor's decision, and we are all anxiously awaiting the final answer, so the city can hopefully start moving forward together."

Times Staff Writer Charlie Frago contributed to this report. Contact Kameel Stanley at kstanley@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8643. Follow @cornandpotatoes.

, biography

Anthony "Tony" Holloway, 52

Hometown: Tampa

Education: Bachelor's degree in business management from Eckerd College and an MBA from the University of Phoenix.

Family: Married to Clearwater attorney Andra Dreyfus. They have no children.

Career: He was hired at the Clearwater Police Department in 1985. In 2007, Somerville police in Massachusetts recruited him as their new police chief. Three years later, he was back in Clearwater, taking over for retiring chief Sid Klein.

Accomplishments: Since becoming chief, Holloway launched a unit that analyzes and cracks down on potential crime trends, as well as a text messaging service that allows residents to report crime anonymously. He also reinstated the marine unit and directed officers to interact more with residents, a strategy the chief calls "park, walk and talk."

Kriseman goes off list, picks mystery candidate as next St. Petersburg police chief 07/20/14 [Last modified: Monday, July 21, 2014 1:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. All of Puerto Rico without power in Maria's brutal wake

    News

    SAN JUAN — Hurricane Maria's ferocious winds continued strafing Puerto Rico late Wednesday morning, shearing off roofs, cutting power to nearly the entire island and pushing rivers over their banks.

    Rescue vehicles from the Emergency Management Agency stand trapped under an awning during the impact of Hurricane Maria, after the storm  hit the eastern region of the island, in Humacao, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017. The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Maria has lost its major hurricane status, after raking Puerto Rico. But forecasters say some strengthening is in the forecast and Maria could again become a major hurricane by Thursday. [Carlos Giusti | Associated Press]
  2. Obamacare repeal bill offers flexibility and uncertainty

    Politics

    The latest Republican proposal to undo the Affordable Care Act would grant states much greater flexibility and all but guarantee much greater uncertainty for tens of millions of people.

  3. Manafort offered to give Russian billionaire 'private briefings' on 2016 campaign, report says

    Nation

    Less than two weeks before Donald Trump accepted the Republican presidential nomination, his campaign chairman offered to provide briefings on the race to a Russian billionaire closely aligned with the Kremlin, the Washington Post reports.

    Paul Manafort, then Donald Trump's campaign chairman, talks to reporters on the floor of the Republican National Convention at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. [Associated Press]
  4. Tampa girl, 4, dies of gunshot reaching for candy

    News

    TAMPA — One day last week, 4-year-old Yanelly Zoller reached into her grandmother's purse looking for candy, her father says.

    Nelly Zoller snuggles with her grandfather's dog, Venus. Her father says she went looking for candy in her grandmother's purse and found a gun instead. [Facebook]
  5. Mikhail Sergachev begins real Lightning audition vs. Carolina Hurricanes

    Lightning Strikes

    RALEIGH, N.C. — The spotlight will remain on Mikhail Sergachev throughout the Lightning preseason.

    Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev (98) on the ice during hockey training camp in preparation for the 2017-2018 season in Brandon Friday morning (09/15/17). DIRK SHADD   |   Times