St. Petersburg police Assistant Chief Antonio Gilliam is one of three finalists for a vacant chief position in Tallahassee.
Gilliam, who started his career with St. Pete police in 2001, is the only external candidate who made the cut, narrowed down from an initial 52 applicants. But his ties to the capitol city run deep. Gilliam, 41, was born and raised there, and graduated from Florida State University with a criminology degree. His mother and several other family members still live there.
While he intended to spend the rest of his career in St. Pete, he said recently, he couldn’t pass up an opportunity to lead his hometown department, especially as the city grapples with high crime. Leon County, in which Tallahassee is the largest city, has had the highest crime rate in Florida for five consecutive years, state data shows.
“As successful as we’ve been in St. Pete, it’s hard to see stuff that’s going on at home,” he said. “I know I won’t be happy until Tallahassee reaches its full potential.”
The search for a new chief began over the summer when former Chief Michael DeLeo resigned after a tumultuous tenure. His departure came amid a multi-agency effort to curb a rash of gun violence this year, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.
The two internal finalists are Maj. Lawrence Revell, who oversees the criminal investigations bureau and has spent his nearly 30-year career in Tallahassee, and Maj. Lonnie Scott Jr., who runs the administrative services bureau. Scott joined Tallahassee police in 2014 after 30 years at the Gainesville Police Department.
Gilliam started in St. Pete as a patrol officer and later became an undercover vice and narcotics detective. He was promoted to sergeant in 2008, lieutenant in 2010 and major in 2015, before becoming assistant chief of investigative services last year.
He’s involved in several community organizations, including the Men in the Making mentoring program and the Pinellas County Substance Abuse Advisory Board. He’s married with two children.
If chosen for the Tallahasse job, Gilliam said he would work to reduce crime and bring more unity to the city by replicating initiatives he feels have worked in St. Pete, such as the Park, Walk and Talk community policing program. He’d also ramp up the department’s recruiting and hiring process and call on his officers to mentor kids in the community.
“I just want to bring a lot of common sense ideas,” he said.
The next step in the selection process are candidate presentations and a meet-and-greet with the public on Nov. 18 in Tallahassee. The city manager will decide who gets the job.