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Capt. David Shears is praised for stepping in with some quick fixes and solid leadership during a turbulent time.

City Manager Steve Spina has made his pick for the city's next police chief.

After interviewing several internal candidates last week, Spina recommended that Capt. David Shears, the current acting chief, take on the position permanently.

Shears could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Spina asked Shears, a 16-year veteran of the force, to step in after former Chief Russell Barnes left in August.

Barnes was accused of creating a "flex time" policy that allowed employees to receive time off instead of overtime pay for extra hours worked. The policy violated city ordinances and possibly the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Barnes quit an hour before the City Council met to decide whether to fire him.

In Spina's memo to the council Monday, he wrote that as acting chief, Shears "demonstrated his abilities in managing the department, providing stability during turbulent times and enacting changes that will bring the department to the standards of this city and community."

Spina wrote that Shears revised overtime policies, updated job descriptions and revised policies for buying police vehicles, among other accomplishments, while acting as interim chief. "He immediately implemented some changes to some of the situations we had problems with," Spina said.

Last year, Barnes received a written reprimand when he deviated from city policy and bought three Crown Victorias from a dealership that was not awarded the bid on the Florida Sheriff's Association state contract.

The council will vote on Spina's recommendation on Monday. The starting salary for the position is $60,674.

Helen Anne Travis can be reached at or (813) 435-7312.