Saturday, December 16, 2017
Public safety

Candidates for St. Petersburg police chief take different approaches in YouTube videos

ST. PETERSBURG — For the next few weeks, Mayor Rick Kriseman will be considering whom to pick as the city's new police chief.

The 10 semifinalists — two locals and eight from out of state — have already submitted their resumes and cover letters.

But in this day and age, what would a job application be without a YouTube video?

Kriseman asked each candidate to submit a clip about themselves to go with the traditional application materials.

Those videos were shown to a select few Monday during a series of meetings the mayor had with representatives from the police unions, neighborhood associations, business groups, the NAACP and other civic organizations.

They are also online for the public to view.

A few quick takeaways:

• Community policing was a major theme for the candidates, who touted their experiences with it and professed it as a central tenet of their law enforcement philosophies. Juvenile crime, a big issue in St. Petersburg for the past few years, also was mentioned by many candidates.

• The candidates also placed a high importance on community outreach. "Years ago, I would have put crime reduction as my No. 1 goal," said William Heim, chief of the Reading Police Department in Pennsylvania. "But earning the respect and trust of the entire community is more important."

• Most stuck to job-related themes, but a few shared personal details. Jerry Geier, currently the police chief in Goodyear, Ariz., grew up in Central Florida and used to vacation in St. Petersburg.

• One candidate, Craig Goralski of the METRO Police Department in Houston, highlighted his expertise in mediation, while another, Robert Buckman of the Loudon County Sheriff's Office in the Washington, D.C., metro area, talked about his experience with development and construction of new police facilities.

• While everyone else talked to the camera, St. Petersburg Assistant Police Chief Melanie Bevan took a "produced" approach to her clip. Her video is the only one with background music and clips of her interacting with residents around town as she narrates her vision for the department.

Kriseman is expected to narrow the field to three or four finalists in the next couple of weeks.

The finalists will then be invited for in-person interviews and a public forum.

The new chief is expected to be installed by early June.

Kameel Stanley can be reached at [email protected], (727) 893-8643 or on Twitter @cornandpotatoes.

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