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They come from within and from far beyond.
Published Sep. 18, 2009

Former Chief Ed Tincher's controversial reign at the Brooksville Police Department is over. But his legacy now clouds the selection of a successor.

Among the diverse group of more than 55 candidates are two former Brooksville police captains who have histories with the former longtime chief, ousted from office earlier this year.

One is Ray Schumacher, who left the department in 1999. He reported Tincher to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in 1993 for allegedly selling confiscated guns to friends and collectors, charges prosecutors declined to pursue because there was no evidence of criminal intent. After the incident, one officer reportedly heard Tincher say he wished Schumacher was dead.

The other is Terry Chapman, who resigned in 2000 while on medical leave after being shot. He served as Tincher's interim replacement from the time the chief was fired in May 1994 to the next year when he was reinstated amid a public backlash.

Noteworthy is a candidate who did not apply, Lt. Rick Hankins, Tincher's protege being groomed to take over the force. Hankins wrote Friday to City Manager Jennene Norman-Vacha on why he didn't seek the position, even though he maintains he "would be the best candidate."

"First," Hankins wrote, "the police department and the City of Brooksville have been cast in unfavorable light in the past several months and I can see no benefit in opening those wounds again. Furthermore, I feel it would be unfair of me to place you in a position to explain why you chose to, or not to appoint me to the position."

A number of applicants noted the controversy surrounding the department, including the ongoing FDLE investigation into improper handling of evidence.

"Brooksville needs a chief that can restore public trust in the police department," wrote Racine, Wis., police Sgt. Steven Madsen, who has been following the saga because his father lives in Brooksville.

The new chief will take over a department with a $1.9-million budget and 23 sworn officers. A high-profile committee that includes Sheriff Richard Nugent and Ocala Police Chief Samuel Williams will winnow out the field before interviewing three to five finalists. Department directors and a citizens group also will play a role. The city manager will make the final choice.

In the pool of applicants are law enforcement officers and small-town police chiefs - current and retired - from as far away as Whittier, Alaska, to as close as Pasco County. They include some interesting prospects, including a retired New York Police Department lieutenant who served as a platoon commander at ground zero during the search efforts after the Sept. 11 attacks, a New Orleans deputy who served during Hurricane Katrina, and the Waco, Texas, police chief who led the investigation of the slaying of a Baylor University basketball player by a teammate in 2003.

There also are a few local candidates who stand out:

- James "Eddie" McConnell of Brooksville, a 23-year sheriff's deputy who ran heated races for Hernando County sheriff against Nugent in 2000 and 2004, losing both times.

- Rex Hinkle, a Brooksville resident who served as a state fire marshal in the Tampa office from 1987 to 2006 and previously in the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.

- Vincent J. McNally, a retired FBI special agent with a litany of experience in international terrorism cases who lives in Lutz.

News researchers Caryn Baird and Angie Holan contributed to this report. John Frank can be reached at or (352) 754-6114.

Fast facts

Attorney selection

Five attorneys applied to serve as the new Brooksville city attorney before the deadline Friday afternoon.

City officials are looking for a successor to serve on a contractual basis once current counsel David La Croix retires.

The applicants include: Jacob D. Varn with the Fowler White firm; Joseph Poblick, who is the current attorney for the city of Zephyrhills; Kristie Kroslack, a former assistant Hernando County attorney now in private practice; George G. Angeliadis of the Hogan Law Firm, and Carole Joy Barice with McGee & Mason, who already represents a number of area municipalities.