Sunday, April 22, 2018
Opinion

Column: Why I chose Anthony Holloway as police chief

St. Petersburg has emerged from the Great Recession with a rejuvenated spirit and a bold vision. Like so many in our community, I am excited about our early progress and the promise of a brighter tomorrow.

The recent strides we have made extend to our police department.

A safer high-speed pursuit policy has been implemented. Gun-sniffing dogs have joined the force. We have hired a veteran journalist, Yolanda Fernandez, to keep our community informed and aware. We are moving forward with plans to build a modern police station, and the police budget I have proposed will allow the next chief to better outfit the men and women who protect and serve us. It's the next chief who will be empowered to effect real and lasting change.

Upon taking office, I set the course for a national search. The city contracted with a search firm, and law enforcement professionals from within the department and across the country applied. While I did not want to preclude internal candidates from being considered, I knew that longstanding divisions within the department would be a high hurdle to overcome.

It was heartening to see so many people — more than 100 — take such an interest in leading our department. I soon narrowed the list of candidates and asked each finalist to submit YouTube videos. And while I was not required to do so, I solicited feedback from the public, the City Council and our police personnel regarding the qualities they desired in a chief. They also offered feedback about the strengths and weaknesses of the finalists.

Each of the external finalists I met had their strengths, but ultimately none fulfilled the criteria to successfully meet the needs of our department and our community.

The internal finalist, Assistant Chief Melanie Bevan, is an exemplary law enforcement officer with a distinguished resume and the support of many in our community. However, I remained unconvinced that she could serve as the change agent we needed to begin a new day at the St. Petersburg Police Department.

I know many have felt this process was protracted, that it perhaps went longer than it should have. One headline even suggested that such an open, inclusive process put me in a tight spot. I couldn't disagree more.

In fact, it was the process that brought me clarity and led me to realize what was needed most: someone familiar with us, but not of us.

I believe that someone is Chief Anthony Holloway.

Holloway has led the Clearwater Police Department since 2010 and served as the chief of police for Somerville, Mass., from 2007-10. He is a native of the Tampa Bay area, attended Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, and joined the Clearwater Police Department in 1985. He is a member of the Florida Bar's Board of Governors and has taught law enforcement to governmental, educational and community organizations throughout Florida.

Though Holloway was not an applicant for St. Petersburg police chief or one of our finalists, I sought him out because I strongly believe he is the perfect leader for this moment in time. I am confident in his ability to transform our department and to lead our force with integrity and moral authority. I am especially excited to witness his leadership in the areas of community-oriented and data-driven policing.

There are many theories on the sources and reasons behind the divisions that exist within our police department, and many memories that color our community's view about what is required for a successful next chapter. While perspectives vary, one fact prevails: As mayor, I am charged with appointing the leader who can best move the department, its officers and the people they protect forward. Chief Holloway is committed to working with his team to dissolve historic divisions, build the bridges our community counts on, and skillfully craft a new chapter that matches the optimism and opportunity of our city's new day.

Rick Kriseman is mayor of St. Petersburg.

Comments
Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

A bipartisan Senate bill clarifying that only the attorney general or a high-ranking designee could remove a special prosecutor would send an important message amid President Donald Trump’s attacks on the investigation into Russia’s inter...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18