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Port Richey names new police chief

PORT RICHEY — A Tampa Police Department captain has been tapped as the next police chief in Port Richey.

After 28 years with the Tampa department, Capt. Rob Lovering will take over as head of the Port Richey Police Department Oct. 20, according to a press release.

City Manager Tom O'Neill said he chose Lovering from among dozens of applicants who were whittled down to four finalists because he is the "best overall fit" for the city.

Lovering has 11 years of command experience with the Tampa department, most recently as a strategic investigations bureau commander. He has also commanded the major crimes bureau and patrol sector, according to O'Neill. Lovering holds a bachelor's in criminology from Saint Leo University and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy.

He takes over for interim Chief James Gabbard, who served several months as the city embarked on its search for a permanent chief. Gabbard, who did not seek the permanent spot, took over for former chief Dave Brown, who retired after a near unanimous "no confidence" vote against him in April by police union members.

At the same, O'Neill also requested an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement into the police department's handling of its vehicle impound lot. That inquiry is ongoing.