NEW PORT RICHEY — Ending weeks of speculation, Kim Bogart was sworn in late Wednesday afternoon as the city's interim police chief.
His wife, grandchild and several of his new officers looked on as Bogart, 60, took his oath in a small ceremony at the Police Department headquarters.
The appointment made by interim City Manager Susan Dillinger was not a surprise to many in the department, who believed Bogart would be tapped to replace James Steffens, who left last week for a job with the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.
Bogart, who made two unsuccessful bids for Pasco sheriff, told officers at the ceremony that he would meet with them today to begin getting to know them.
"I truly consider this an honor and a privilege. I'm looking forward to meeting all of you," Bogart said in a brief speech to the officers.
Then one officer vented his frustration over the way the transition had been handled.
"We want you to do the right thing because we've been jerked around for a while now," Cpl. Daniel Durivou said.
Bogart acknowledged the corporal and said he planned to get to the bottom of his concerns. Durivou told the Times that he and his colleagues have been concerned about negotiations over their pensions, not having enough officers on the street, and the several weeks of not knowing who would lead them.
"When you're on the street and you don't know who your boss is, it affects morale," he said. "It affects all of us."
Steffens, who gave the city a month's notice before departing, also expressed concern last week that he had not been contacted by Dillinger to discuss a transition or to meet with his successor.
Dillinger told the Times on Wednesday that she worked as quickly as she could to make a decision and it took several weeks to complete the necessary paperwork with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to bring in Bogart. Dillinger, a career library director who was herself given an interim role until the City Council can hire a new city manager, said she had to make sure she followed procedure while not officially announcing Bogart as her choice until it could be completed.
"It was a long process and I was frustrated, too," Dillinger said. "I'm just doing the best I can do and people just need to know that."
The interim city manager said she is relieved the process is over and Bogart can get going on the job. She said she picked him among several applicants for his 30 years of experience in law enforcement.
Bogart will run the department until a permanent chief is picked. He's expressed his interest in the permanent job, too.
Bogart joined the Tampa Police Department as a patrol officer in 1975, then was hired as a captain at the Pasco County Sheriff's Office a decade later. In 2000, he was one of many command staff members fired when Bob White became sheriff and installed his own leadership. He became a law enforcement consultant and served as executive director of the Florida Corrections Accreditation Commission, which reviews Florida jails. In 2009, he served as the interim chief of the Osceola County jail.
He ran two vigorous campaigns as a Democrat for sheriff, coming about 4,000 votes shy of unseating White in 2008. Last year, he went on the attack against Sheriff Chris Nocco, whom he painted as inexperienced but politically connected. Bogart questioned the effectiveness of the agriculture program at the jail and alleged that sluggish detectives failed to arrest a rape suspect who then went on to strike again.
Nocco beat Bogart by a 2-to-1 margin. Bogart said he hoped his past runs for sheriff would not interfere with relations between the two agencies.
"I don't think there will be or should be (problems) when you consider our objectives are the same," Bogart said.
Bogart told the Times his first order of business, after meeting his staff to learn their concerns, will be to look at the department's budget. He also wants to begin building relationships with residents and local business owners.
"This job is really just such an exciting opportunity for me," he said. "This is an excellent department and it gives me a chance to serve in the community I love, where my family and I live."