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Line forms for next police chief

The city isn't taking applications yet, but several names already have surfaced as possible replacements for retiring Police Chief Sam Lynn. The list includes several of Lynn's top administrators and a few former St. Petersburg police veterans who are now chiefs of other departments.

Lynn announced Wednesday that he's leaving the department March 31 to lead a new countywide narcotics bureau in the Pinellas County Sheriff's Department. City Manager Robert Obering is expected to name an interim chief today.

"There's a number of ways" Obering can go about choosing a permanent chief, said Don McRae, deputy city manager in charge of public safety. "The city manager can just reach out and select someone. He can do a national search in a variety of ways."

Obering almost certainly would present a list of top candidates to the City Council for its comment, McRae said.

People being mentioned in law enforcement circles as possible successors to Lynn include:

Assistant Police Chief Art Runyon. Runyon, a top contender for the interim chief job, is the only candidate so far to publicly indicate an interest in Lynn's job. Runyon, known for his hot temper and abrasive personality, rose from the ranks after joining the department as a patrol officer in 1968. He served as deputy chief in charge of the patrol division for several years before being promoted to assistant chief in January 1989.

He vied with Lynn for the chief's job in 1981.

Deputy Police Chief Goliath Davis. Davis has risen quickly through the department since he was first hired as a patrol officer in 1973. He spent four years in patrol before leaving in 1977 to pursue his education for two years. Equipped with a master's degree, he quickly was promoted to division chief in charge of training. After earning a doctorate in criminology from Florida State University, he was promoted to deputy chief in charge of the services bureau. Most recently, he was made deputy chief of the patrol division last year. He also teaches at the University of South Florida.

If Davis were to apply and be selected, he would be the city's first black chief of police. Davis is thought to benefit from close ties to City Hall if he applies. Deputy City Manager McRae is a close personal friend and godfather to Davis' son.

Deputy Police Chief Hal Robbins. Robbins, who enjoys a reputation as a good administrator and a cop's cop, heads the department's investigations division. He joined the department in 1969.

Robbins already has expressed interest in being a police chief. He was recently a runner-up for the job of police chief in Fort Pierce. He also applied for chief of police in St. Petersburg when the job was open in 1981. Robbins was critically injured in 1973 when he was arresting a woman on a drug charge. The woman killed herself.

Deputy Police Chief Terry Upman. Upman also has held a number of high ranking administrative positions in the department, including years as head of the department's internal affairs office. Upman, who joined the department in 1967, was an obvious choice for promotion when Lynn picked five people for the new post of major in January 1989. He headed a patrol division and was elevated two months later to deputy chief in charge of the information services division. He oversees communications, records and crime analysis.

Pinellas Park Police Chief David Milchan. Milchan, chief in Pinellas Park for five years, said Thursday he doesn't know if he's going to apply.

"I just really haven't thought that much about it," he said.

Milchan spent 21{ years with the St. Petersburg Police Department, serving as lieutenant in charge of the Youth Services Section in his last position. He worked for a while as a juvenile specialist with the state Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services. Milchan then spent 3{ years as police chief in St. Petersburg Beach before becoming chief of the larger Pinellas Park department.

Another name mentioned is that of St. Petersburg Beach Police Chief Terry Hensley, another veteran of the St. Petersburg department. But Hensley, who became chief of the beach department a year ago, said he won't go after the job.