St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman names four finalists in police chief search

Melanie Bevan has been with the force for 25 years, the last two as  an assistant chief.

Melanie Bevan has been with the force for 25 years, the last two as an assistant chief.

ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman took another step toward selecting a new police chief Thursday, announcing four finalists for the job.

The finalists included three men from other states and one internal candidate, Assistant Chief Melanie Bevan.

"A common theme I have heard from police officers, members of the community and my own team with respect to a new police chief was 'leadership' — I believe these four candidates embody that leadership," Kriseman wrote in a statement to the Tampa Bay Times on Thursday. "I look forward to introducing these candidates to our police personnel, and to the citizens of the Sunshine City."

The other finalists were Jerry Geier, Terrence Pierce and Thaddeus Reddish.

Geier is chief of the Goodyear Police Department in Arizona. He was previously chief of Arizona's Yuma Police Department and has experience in Florida, working separately at the sheriff's offices in Orange and Osceola counties. He has 30 years of law enforcement experience.

Pierce is a captain at the Montgomery County Department of Police in Rockville, Md. He has 24 years of law enforcement experience.

Reddish is assistant chief at the New Haven Police Department in Connecticut. He has 22 years of law enforcement experience.

Locals will be most familiar with Bevan. She joined the St. Petersburg department more than 25 years ago and rose through the ranks before being named an assistant chief in late 2012.

City spokesman Ben Kirby said the finalists will be scheduled for back-to-back interviews on a single day. That evening, residents will be invited to meet and interact with them at a public forum.

A time and location has not yet been determined, but it will be later this month, Kirby said.

The mayor is expected to make his final pick shortly after that, he said.

"Public safety is job one for me, and choosing the right person to lead our men and women who keep us safe every day is one of the most important decisions I'll make as mayor," Kriseman said.

His action on this matter is being closely watched. Already, administration officials have had to weather controversy related to public safety issues, most recently turmoil over racial tension and promotions at the agency. Assistant Chief Luke Williams, who was at a community meeting where that issue arose, had applied for the agency's top job. He did not make the final cut.

"Obviously, I am disappointed and I applied for the position because I was interested in continuing to serve the community and the organization in the capacity of chief," Williams said Thursday. "As it stands, I am committed to working with whoever is selected as the chief, and obviously they will have my 100 percent support. I thank the mayor for the opportunity to compete."

Waveney Ann Moore contributed to this report. Kameel Stanley can be reached at kstanley@tampabay.com, (727) 893-8643 or on Twitter @cornandpotatoes.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman names four finalists in police chief search 06/05/14 [Last modified: Thursday, June 5, 2014 8:57pm]

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