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Search for new St. Petersburg police chief picks up again

ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman has said finding a new police chief is one of the most important, and pressing, tasks he must tackle.

A month into taking office, he's making his first move. The city has issued a request for proposals in preparation for awarding a contract to an executive search firm.

Whichever headhunting firm is picked will be expected to recruit, screen and check the backgrounds of qualified candidates. It also would be in charge of arranging interviews with city officials.

Responses are due Thursday.

Wanting to be more proactive, Kriseman also directed the staff to make sure certain people know about the proposal request, city spokesman Ben Kirby said.

"We are sending it to specific firms," Kirby said.

Those firms are: Colin Baeziger & Associates of Daytona Beach Shores; the Mercer Group of Atlanta; Korn Ferry, based in Los Angeles; Bob Murray & Associates of Tallahassee; and Voorhees Associates, based in Deerfield, Ill.

Many have experience with conducting searches for local and state governments.

Dozens of people already have applied to be the next leader of the Police Department, which hasn't had a new chief in a dozen years.

Before retiring last month, former Police Chief Chuck Harmon said he thought two existing assistant chiefs, Melanie Bevan and Luke Williams, should be strongly considered.

The third assistant chief, Dave DeKay, is leading the department now on an interim basis.

Kriseman has said he is not planning to throw out existing resumes. He is hoping, however, that by using a search firm, other candidates will come forward.

Some may have been reluctant to apply before because they did not want their current employers to know, Kirby said. Search firms offer candidates some initial anonymity.

"That only goes up to a certain point," Kirby said. "These applications will inevitably become public. This is not a secret process."

Kameel Stanley can be reached at kstanley@tampabay.com, (727) 893-8643 or @cornandpotatoes on Twitter.

Search for new St. Petersburg police chief picks up again 02/04/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 4, 2014 11:18pm]

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