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Assistant Tampa police chief, key in security planning for RNC, seeks demotion for 'personal reasons'

TAMPA — One of the men in charge of security planning for the Republican National Convention has taken a voluntary demotion.

Tampa police Assistant Chief Marc Hamlin has asked to be demoted to captain for "personal reasons," said police spokeswoman Laura McElroy.

Though he explained his reason to some co-workers at a staff meeting Monday, he said he did not want to discuss it publicly. McElroy said it was a difficult decision for him and he did it "in the best interest of his family."

Hamlin, 45, is married and has three sons.

Lately, Hamlin has served as the face of local RNC security efforts at community and business meetings. He split convention leadership duties with his co-worker and longtime friend, Assistant Chief John Bennett.

Popular within the department, Hamlin has been rumored to be a top pick for chief when Jane Castor retires in May 2014. He's gregarious, approachable and direct, said Tampa police union president Greg Stout.

"I think the entire department is a little disappointed because they felt he was their go-to guy," Stout said. "If they had a problem, they could walk up to him and talk to him."

The change in position will be effective Sunday.

Hamlin has been talking about this personal issue for a while with Castor, and when he announced his decision at the staff meeting the reaction of those in the room was surprise and empathy, McElroy said.

Castor sent out an email to staff later in the afternoon. In it, she wrote:

Marc Hamlin has asked for a demotion to the position of Captain for personal reasons. He has served in the position of Assistant Chief for over two years and has done a fine job. I know this decision was not an easy one, but something he had to do for his family.

He's never been disciplined in his 21-year career with the department, McElroy said.

Castor retires in May 2014, a date set by the Deferred Retirement Option Program (or DROP). It's still a possibility that Hamlin could be picked by Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn to be the next chief, McElroy said.

Hamlin has time to rise up the ranks if he wants, and one doesn't have to be assistant chief to be chosen as chief, she said. Former police Chief Bennie Holder was promoted from the rank of major.

Hamlin will still be heavily involved in the RNC, but in a different capacity. He'll oversee the downtown area, Channelside and Ybor City, and will work with incoming Assistant Chief John Newman.

"So (Hamlin) will still be involved probably just as much," McElroy said.

He is listed as the "lead person" for local RNC security services in a 2010 resolution between the city and the Tampa Bay Host Committee. Tampa police want to change that designation to Bennett, but it needs to be approved by the Host Committee, the Committee on Arrangements and the U.S. Secret Service.

Because the duties already have been reassigned, that's simply a formality, McElroy said. Castor wouldn't have approved Hamlin's demotion if it could compromise RNC plans, she said.

Newman, who oversees District 2, the area near Busch Gardens, will be promoted to assistant chief Sunday. Capt. Brian Dugan will fill the District 2 spot.

Newman has been with the department for 26 years and lately has overseen tax fraud and gang investigations. In 2009, he led a major operation aimed at Tampa's Drak gang, which sent 17 gang members to jail.

Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at jvandervelde@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3433.

Assistant Tampa police chief, key in security planning for RNC, seeks demotion for 'personal reasons' 04/24/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 24, 2012 9:32pm]
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