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Former Clearwater captain on short list for police chief

CLEARWATER — This city's next police chief might come from Bradenton or Dallas or Detroit.

Or he might come from Clearwater.

City Manager Bill Horne on Thursday unveiled a list of a dozen candidates to replace Sid Klein as police chief. These were culled from a field of 102 applicants for the job. City officials plan to fly in these 12 for visits soon before cutting the list down to three finalists.

Of the candidates, the one who may be most recognizable to locals is Tony Holloway, a former Clearwater police captain who left the department in 2007 to become police chief in Somerville, Mass., a city of 77,000 outside Boston.

Holloway, 47, started as a Clearwater patrol officer and rose through the ranks over 22 years. He was known for his calm demeanor and his work fighting drugs and crime in the North Greenwood neighborhood.

The current police chief, Klein, recognized Holloway's potential. He pushed Holloway to get a college degree, promoted him to supervisory positions, and assigned him to deal with budgets and other administrative tasks to broaden his understanding of police work.

Some view Holloway as a frontrunner for the chief's job, but the city manager said the competition is wide open at this point. Horne believes there is a wealth of strong and experienced candidates, and he noted that Holloway has been a police chief for only two years.

"Tony will be viewed as a 'favorite son' applicant because he comes with a lot of name recognition," Horne said. "But he is by no means a shoo-in selection because it's a very competitive field. The quality is there."

Another candidate with local ties is Jeff Patterson, another former Clearwater police captain. He left the department after 17 years in 2000 to become chief of a small police department in a suburb of Youngstown, Ohio. Patterson has since earned a law degree and is now a criminal prosecutor in Ohio. Klein once called Patterson "a natural born leader."

Here are the other 10 candidates:

• Eugenio Bernal, a bilingual Orlando deputy police chief.

• Ralph Caldwell Jr., police chief in Springfield, Ill.

• Michael Denny, assistant chief in Mesa, Ariz.

• Robert Dunlap, a retired assistant police chief from Detroit.

• John Jackson, chief in Alamosa, Colo.

• Thomas Lawrence, deputy chief in Dallas.

• Richard Lemack, assistant city manager in Hollywood, Fla., where he used to be assistant police chief.

• Craig Novick, chief in Franklin Township, N.J.

• Kenneth Prendergast, U.S. Army colonel in the military police at Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base.

• William Tokajer, deputy chief in Bradenton.

The city plans to bring these candidates into town, possibly in two groups, for interviews with Horne, Klein, city human resources director Joe Roseto and police union officials. After the field is whittled down to three or so finalists, the remaining contenders will appear at a public forum in Clearwater and meet with City Council members one-on-one.

The city must pick a successor to Klein, who has been Clearwater's chief since 1981. Horne will make the final decision, although the council will definitely have its say.

The city intends to have a new chief in place before Klein retires in January.

Clearwater's police officers union says it simply wants the best person for the job.

"We don't have any preconceived picks," said John Walser, a Clearwater patrol officer and president of the local Fraternal Order of Police. "We want this to be a fair and ethical search for the best candidate, and we believe that will be the case."

Mike Brassfield can be reached at brassfield@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4160.

Former Clearwater captain on short list for police chief 10/15/09 [Last modified: Thursday, October 15, 2009 10:35pm]
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