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Retiring Clearwater police Chief Sidney Klein stayed above the fray

Klein announces his retirement Thursday during a news conference.


Klein announces his retirement Thursday during a news conference.

It's not easy being police chief. Ask Sid Klein, who's served as Clearwater's top cop for nearly 30 years. He'll tell you how it is. "I've learned to be a good politician, but how to stay out of politics," said Klein, who announced Thursday he will retire in January. "I've had to sharpen my claws a few times. I've been scratched and bit a few times." Klein, 67, has seen a lot of people come and go during his time as Clearwater's police chief. He's served five mayors and countless City Council members. Interestingly enough, he's also stayed in place through a parade of chiefs in Tampa Bay's two biggest cities — Tampa and St. Petersburg — and nearby Largo. He's shaped a growing police force, changing it to suit the times. For Klein through the years, it's a ride to be remembered.

By the numbers with Sid Klein


$38,000 Salary as chief in 1981.

$116,628 Salary in August 2009.

$93,980 Current median salary for U.S. police chiefs.


226 Clearwater Police Department employees in 1981.

392 Police department employees in 2009.


Clearwater population in 1981.


Clearwater population in 2009.

City leaders


Mayors since 1981.


City managers since 1981.

Police leaders


The number of police chiefs in Tampa and St. Petersburg since 1981.


The number of chiefs in Largo since 1981.

Klein through the years: A time line

June 1959 to September 1962: Serves in the U.S. Navy.

March 1963: Begins his law enforcement career as a deputy sheriff in the Dade County Public Safety Department.

1970: Moves to Lakewood, Colo., to work for newly formed Lakewood Department of Public Safety. In 1978, promoted to assistant director.

January 1981: After being chosen from a pool of more than 200 candidates, he's appointed as Clearwater police chief.

1981: Begins investigation into Scientology by collecting thousands of pages of reports and documents and cabinets filled with tape recordings.

1985: Opens North Greenwood Neighborhood Patrol Police Substation.

1993: Recommends the city launch a special task force to combat homelessness. Helps establish Clearwater Homeless Intervention Project.

2000: Klein leads efforts to help Clearwater's booming Hispanic population. Project Next Step would help provide community policing services to the Hispanic community and others.

August 2009: Klein announces his intent to retire in January 2010.

Retiring Clearwater police Chief Sidney Klein stayed above the fray 08/14/09 [Last modified: Friday, August 14, 2009 10:13pm]
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