NEW PORT RICHEY — New Port Richey City Manager Debbie Manns announced Friday that she has hired former long-time Tarpon Springs police Chief Robert Kochen to head up the New Port Richey Police Department. He will replace Kim Bogart, who is retiring.
Manns had numerous reasons for her selection. Kochen knows and lives in the area, having spent 32 years in Tarpon Springs, 10 of those as chief. But he also has “chutzpah,” she said.
When COVID hit three years ago, he found a way to still have the important Epiphany celebration but without putting his officers or city residents at risk by working with the Tarpon Springs community. Manns said that ability to connect with the community even in tough situations will serve him well in New Port Richey.
“He is a proven leader, and additionally brings a unique set of administrative skills developed while being the chief assistant to the city nanager of Tarpon Springs for over seven years. These administrative skills will also be an asset to the city of New Port Richey,” Manns said in a news release.
Manns said that Kochen has developed good working relations with New Port Richey and numerous other agencies and departments in the area and “has extensive community familiarity and awareness of current issues,” she said.
“Chief Kochen is a driven professional who will hit the ground running because he has not only acclimated himself to the people, processes and issues, but because he has the rare ability to establish vision cast goals,” Manns said.
While police agencies generally embrace promotion from within the ranks, Manns said New Port Richey’s police officers are embracing Kochen, from the officers on the street to the union. City Council members have also told her they are pleased with the pick.
Kochen graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s in criminal justice from Tampa College in 1984 and earned his masters in business administration summa cum laude from Florida Metropolitan University in 1997.
Although his official first day isn’t until January 30, Kochen began his introduction to New Port Richey this week, meeting with Bogart and other police officials, taking ride-alongs and getting introductions in the community. He will be sworn in before the City Council on February 7 and will earn an annual salary of $125,000.
Bogart has faced criticism in recent years as the Black Lives Matter movement clashed with city police and leadership. Just before he announced his retirement, he gave a detailed report to the council on his perspective on concerns regularly voiced by the public.